WATCH: There was ‘good and bad in the experiments’, says Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber after Romania rout

Springbok back (who usually plays at scrum-half) Grant Williams (2nd R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's seventh try against Romania. Photo: AFP

Springbok back (who usually plays at scrum-half) Grant Williams (2nd R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's seventh try against Romania. Photo: AFP

Published Sep 18, 2023


The Springboks got most of the answers they wanted out of the clash against Romania yesterday in Bordeaux, but their attention will immediately shift to Ireland today.

South Africa completed a 76-0 rout of the Romanians to remain the only side not to have conceded a try at the World Cup in France.

After two matches, the Boks’ defence is still reigning supreme, with only three points scored against them by Scotland in the first game.

They’ve stacked up a massive 94 points so far.

It was again the scrum and lineouts that laid the platform for the world champions to dominate as they ran in 12 tries.

Even after coach Jacques Nienaber made 14 changes to the starting side, there wasn’t any evidence of a disconnect between the players.

It underlined the togetherness of the squad and the readiness of players to fill the boots of others when called upon. This will remain one of the Boks’ biggest weapons in their quest to be crowned champions again.

“There was some good and bad in the experiments,” said Nienaber afterwards.

“But giving guys an opportunity at a World Cup was important for us, so that they can get experience in those positions they can cover.

“We have massive respect for Romania internally. They received a lot of attention and analysis during the week.

“But we also wanted something for us out of the game. Using three hookers and four nines was one of our goals.”

Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and wing Makazole Mapimpi completed hat-tricks in the game, while the converted Grant Williams scored two beautiful five-pointers off the right wing.

The outcome will bring massive confidence to the Bok camp as they head into their toughest – short – week of preparation as the Irish wait on them at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on Saturday.

This clash will likely decide who will get the top spot in Pool B, and can bring valuable momentum ahead of the quarter-finals.

“We have an idea in our minds what we want to do for the next game. It’s nice that there’s such good internal competition within this group and positive competition. There’s not a big gap between the players,” Nienaber said yesterday.

“From a selection point of view, we’re open and honest with the players.

“They know what we’re thinking, and we’ll share that with them even tonight (Sunday).”

Meanwhile, Nienaber decided to call up flyhalf Handré Pollard instead of a hooker to replace the injured Malcolm Marx in the 33-man squad.

Pollard, a member of the successful 2019 campaign, recovered from a calf injury and played some minutes for his English Premiership club Leicester Tigers at the weekend.

“He’s been working hard to return to full fitness, and we are pleased that he now has some game-time under his belt for his club.

And this will allow him to slot back into the team,” said Nienaber about Pollard’s call-up.

Tighthead prop Vincent Koch hobbled off with a knee injury during the warm-up yesterday and did not play the match.

The Boks will also get clarity over lock Eben Etzebeth’s availability today or tomorrow, but he looks set to tackle Ireland.

Nienaber said the analysis of the Irish will start today, but he hasn’t really put too much focus on them as they had an important pool match against Romania that they had to treat with the necessary respect.

The Boks could easily have taken their foot off the accelerator after scoring a four-try bonus point after 11 minutes of play – a new World Cup record – but they kept their opponents under the pump.

“The players knew what we wanted to achieve, and it could only happen if we were in a good position. Otherwise, you can’t make those little planned changes,” Nienaber said.

“There will be some sore bodies ... there were proper shots in that game. We will take a look at injuries and then make calls on team selection. We will announce the squad internally on Tuesday.

“From a selection point of view, we are open with the players. We have an idea in our minds of what we want to do in the next game.”