Siya Kolisi from South Africa (top) breaks through a tackle from Folau Fainga’a from Australia (below) during the Rugby Championship test match between South Africa and Australia at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

CAPE TOWN – Rugby writer Mark Keohane, as always, shares his rants and raves after the weekend's rugby action, especially that of the Springboks against the Wallabies in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.


1. Siya Kolisi’s aggression in contact and defensive 'mongrel' set the tone for the Springboks' win. 

Tackle statistics can be misleading because some players make a lot of tackles but few game-saving or game changing tackles. Kolisi is in the category of players whose tackle count screams EFFECTIVE. The Springbok captain’s dominance in contact resulted in South Africa getting an intercept seven pointer within 50 seconds of the kick-off. 

Kolisi is also a player whose game goes to another level in a Springbok jersey. I thought he was the best South African forward in Port Elizabeth and he led through his actions.

2. The Lions, under Swys de Bruin’s coaching, have scored the most tries in Super Rugby in the past two seasons. It is why Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus wanted De Bruin involved in a backline coaching mix that has Sevens Skills Specialist Mzwandile Stick and defensive specialist Jacques Nienaber.

De Bruin’s attack-orientated approach is starting to transform the Springboks attack and one set phase move in particular was as good as anything you’ll see. It would have been a try but for inaccuracy in the last pass to Aphiwe Dyantyi. 

The innovation and creativity in the move was of the highest quality.

Cheslin Kolbe of South Africa looks to sidestep Dane Haylett-Petty of Australia during the 2018 Rugby Championship game between South Africa and Australia at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Deryck Foster BackpagePix

3. Cheslin Kolbe made a statement to size-obsessed South African coaches and supporters that big is to be judged in performance, and not in height and weight. Kolbe’s step and exhilaration have always been standout features of his game, but defensively he doesn’t stand back for anyone. 

The pocket rocket crashed into anything and everything that came his way. He stopped some very big men and on the odd occasion where the initial contact favoured the attacker, Kolbe wasn’t shy to hustle and hang on. 

Those still taking aim at Kolbe for a lack of size do some out of prejudice because it wouldn’t be as a result of his performance.


1. Faf de Klerk’s box kicks have become predictable, which is still okay if he had the aerial and field position accuracy of the legendary Fourie du Preez and Ireland’s Connor Murray. 

De Klerk, for all his hustle and bustle and in-your-face aggression, has been poor in the Rugby Championship when it comes to the effectiveness of his box kicks. One, in particular, was so misdirected it gave the Wallabies a freebie of a counter-attack which led to seven points. 

De Klerk has played every minute of the Rugby Championship, but No 9 could be the Achilles' Heel of a Springbok squad which is taking very good shape.

 Faf de Klerk’s box kicks have become predictable. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix
Faf de Klerk’s box kicks have become predictable. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

2. Andre Esterhuizen is big, strong and muscular. But he is so one-dimensional as a No 12, and if he doesn’t dominate the tackle, on attack, there is very little variation to his game. 

Bok coach Rassie Erasmus missed an opportunity against Australia to play Elton Jantjies at 10 and Handre Pollard at 12, or even in the final 20 minutes to introduce Damian Willemse at 10 and move Pollard to inside centre. 

The South African attack would be so much more effective with 10 and 12 having play-making abilities.

3. The refereeing in Port Elizabeth and in Buenos Aires was again sub-standard.

The application of the most basic law interpretations was lacking and inconsistent. The skew throw into the scrum is back and the point of delivery is closer to the lock’s foot than the hooker’s. There was no sanction, nor interest to sanction several high tackles. 

And in Buenos Aires there was again a situation where the referee asked the TMO to judge a try. The TMO advised ‘no try’ and the referee ignored his TMO and awarded a try.