Springbok legends accuse England of “copying” South Africa

“It’s a weird one.”

England got their 2024 Six Nations campaign off to a winning start against Italy last weekend but their performance on the day was far from perfect.

Steve Borthwick’s side conceded three tries as they just about overcame the Italians 27-24, with the three-point winning margin their narrowest win over the Azzurri in Six Nations history.

Former Springboks coach Felix Jones was in the England coaching box for the first time following his departure from South Africa, with the Irishman taking charge of England’s defence.

Jones was in charge of attack for South Africa and former Springboks Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers think it’s bizarre that he has switched to defence for England, with Burger accusing him of “copying” former Boks head coach Jacques Nienaber’s defence system.

“Last year they [England] played to their strengths. They had the best defence at the World Cup and best kicking game at the World Cup,” Burger told the Boks Office podcast.

“This year, we all see Felix Jones is going across there and I thought what a great job he did with our Springbok attack.

“We all have massive respect for Felix – his work ethic and how he coaches the attack. All of a sudden he pops up on screen as a defence coach and he is copying a Springbok style of defence.

“If you look at the highlights there was one horror clip with Tommaso Allan’s try. Five guys on the blind, three guys at the ruck and a second pass takes out 12 English defenders and they got a four-on-one with Elliot Daly. There’s a lot of work in that defensive system.”

De Villiers agreed with Burger, branding the decision to move him to defence a “weird one.”

“England starts anew this year. They see what Felix has done with the Boks. You employ him, but you employ him for something totally different,” De Villiers added.

“On what basis do you get a guy like that if he is going to fulfil a role that that you haven’t seen him do? Or is it based on what he has done at Munster? It’s a weird one.

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