CAPE TOWN - The Springboks come in for praise and SA fans receive criticism, as Mark Keohane looks at the positives and negatives from a weekend packed with international rugby action.
1: Big players make big plays and among the most significant plays in South Africa’s win against England was Siya Kolisi’s penalty turnover just before halftime. Kolisi showed exceptional pace in the chase to be the second man in at the ball and once there complete the perfect turnover. Kolisi, as captain, also appreciated the psychology of getting to halftime ahead and he urged Handre Pollard to give it crack from 60 metres. Pollard delivered, the Boks lead (13-12) for the first time in the match and England spirit and fight was finished.
2: Rassie Erasmus’s use of his substitute’s bench was another of the outstanding features of the series win against England. His selections, starting and match 23, in both Tests have been the equal of having a rugby lottery ticket. He’s hit the jackpot, but there’s been no luck. He’s known the numbers. Erasmus is renowned for his technical knowledge but his understanding of the ebb and flow, aligned to the qualities of his players, is another of his strengths. His second half game management, in terms of his substitute use, increased the pace, sustained the tempo and had England out on their feet at the final whistle.
3: In the early hours of Sunday morning another South African was celebrating in Houston. Gary Gold, former Springboks assistant coach and Sharks coach, guided the USA to first ever win against a Tier One nation. It has taken the USA 94 years and the winning margin was just one point in the 30-29 win against Scotland, but it was worth 100 given the occasion. Gold, a loyal servant of Villager RFC in Brookside, Cape Town, has travelled extensively as a coach but in Houston, appropriately, his international coaching career finally has lift off.
Thanks for the good times, Houston ☀️ 😍 pic.twitter.com/hkVeiYEWQN— USA Rugby (@USARugby) June 18, 2018
1: The Springboks won despite the refereeing of Frenchman Roman Poite. He was again awful at the breakdown. His interpretations were at odds with the law. He didn’t cheat either side and there was no bias. He was just bad and had it not been for the intervention of his touch judges Brad Shields would have been awarded a first Test try when he dropped the ball and fell half a metre short of the tryline. Poite, unsighted, was emphatic in awarding the try. Common sense prevailed following the intervention of the touch judge and the try was disallowed.
2: The global dislike and hatred of the All Blacks means Australian referee Angus Gardener copped abuse for red carding French fullback Benjamin Fall. Gardener was correct in is decision. He did not rely on interpretation or do a lay medical analysis on the supposed impact of a player falling on his head. He did what referees should be doing every weekend, which was to apply the law. The merit of the law, when two players compete in the air for a high ball, is very different to the merit of a referee decision consistent with the law.
3: I have loved watching the Springboks in the past two Tests and they’ve achieved two fantastic wins against a very good England. What irks me is how many South Africans struggle to enjoy the moment and always default to how the performance would never have been enough to beat the All Blacks, the very same All Blacks who looked decidedly ordinary in beating a French team ranked eighth in the world and playing with one less man for 60 minutes. Ask Kiwi fans and they’ll tell you they are the ones relieved it was the All Blacks who weren’t playing the Springboks on Saturday.