Renaissance man: meet France’s secret weapon - their SA kicking coach
Vlok Cilliers is relishing the ‘massive honour’ of helping in team’s revival, including boosting his vocabulary
Slowly but surely, Vlok Cilliers has been expanding his vocabulary. French is his third language, after Afrikaans and English, and he began at the business end.
“I am getting to grips with the rugby terms,” says Fabien Galthie’s kicking coach, an unsung hero of France’s intrepid Six Nations campaign. “Those are the most important – kicking, ruck, breakdown, penalty, offside. I tried to get those on board quickly.”
The 51-year-old’s impact has been significant. Shaun Edwards deserves the lavish praise he has received for France’s dogged defensive performances. There have been flashes of customary attacking flair. But pragmatic kicking has provided a sturdy foundation. Ahead of their trip to Murrayfield, France have averaged 36 kicks per match, more than any other team and up from 29 in last season’s Six Nations. Les Bleus struck just 19 kicks per game during the 2018 tournament...