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‘We need to be clinical and precise in our execution ...’ Springboks want to be on right side of the law against France

Australian referee Angus Gardner (C) signals a try scored by Springboks during the Rugby World Cup against Scotland

The Springboks are hoping to discipline against France at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

Published Oct 10, 2023


The Springboks want to continue their exemplary disciplinary record on Sunday when they face France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Paris to put as little pressure on the match officials.

Playing the host nation in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd of more than 80 000 supporters will bring its own pressure, and it could influence the man in the middle.

That’s why the Boks want to show him their good side to ensure they do not end up on the wrong end of his whistle.

It’s not yet clear who the referee will be for Sunday’s match (9pm kickoff), but seeing that it’s the reigning world champions playing France, leading refs Jaco Peyper (South Africa) and Mathieu Raynal (France) are out of the equation.

That leaves the door open for one of Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Wayne Barnes, Luke Pearce, Matthew Carley (all England) or Nic Berry (Australia) to take up the whistle in the important clash.

Whoever gets the nod will have arguably the toughest match of their career to officiate so far.

Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids said they’ve analysed their game and realised discipline will be the key in the quarter-final.

“We want to make sure the pictures we give at the breakdown, at scrum time, whether it’s with mauling, that those are the right pictures, and it will hopefully be interpreted in the right way,” Davids said.

“Going forward in the play-offs, there will be pressure.

“I don’t think there is only pressure on the referee, but also on the players and coaches. The referee is also human.

“It is human with the loud crowd and so many spectators - mostly the home team’s - that somehow it gets to you.

“But the referees are professionals, they are experienced in their job. They do everything to the best of their ability to make the right call.

“They also have enough assistance if they are unsure of something. It is difficult to judge and say a ref makes a specific decision as a result of crowd pressure.

“There will be good decisions, and I think there might be decisions that will go the other way.

“That is something we will have to accept and adapt to.

“The only thing we can do is be as clinical and precise in our execution as we can.

“We will try to do that, and we will try to ensure we stay on the right side. But we can expect playing here against the home team, it is going to be a massive atmosphere.”

According to Davids, they already had a dry run with the crowd last year when they played France in Marseille.

The home team won that game 30-26 after an early red card to Pieter-Steph du Toit.

When it comes to World Cup playoffs, though, SA have only faced France once in 1995, with the Boks winning that semi-final and eventually lifting the trophy on home soil.

Davids says they will have to adapt to the environment on Sunday.

The Boks have not received any cards against them at this World

Cup, and their disciplinary record has been good in the build-up to the tournament as well.

“We are very impressed with the way the team behaved in terms of not conceding yellow cards on the field. Plenty of training has gone into that over the last four years, and it is good to see things paying off,” Davids said.

“But we know the game. Accidents happen quickly. Touch wood, it won’t happen to us going forward.”