Springboks will focus on Wales, not Garces - Flo
CAPE TOWN – Springbok loose forward Francois Louw says they are going to have to “know how to play” within referee Jerome Garces’ outlook of the game and “put together a performance accordingly” when they meet Wales in their Rugby World Cup semi-final on Sunday (11am kick-off).
The French official’s appointment for the Boks’ game has left some South African fans feeling a little uneasy, and understandably so.
Under Garces, the Springboks have won just four out of 14 Tests. Against Wales, they have never won a Test under the Frenchman’s watch.
In fact, no good memories exist for South Africans where Garces has been involved - in their World Cup opener against New Zealand, which the Boks lost 23-10, Garces was also the man in the middle, and against Japan in Brighton yeah, you guessed it.
Garces certainly can’t take the wrap for all of the poor results the Boks have suffered while he was involved, but when it comes to dubious calls during some of those games, he can’t exactly escape the jury.
Louw went the diplomatic route when asked for his thoughts on Garces having the whistle in their Yokohama semi this weekend, saying: “We focus on our game. Our captain and various other players on the field will have a line of communication with the referee, and if there is anything of concern to us, we will try to relay that through the right channels to him, to sort that out.
“I don’t think anyone ever goes out - player or referee or match official - to purposefully make errors. But it is a high-intensity game played at high speed, and things do get missed and errors do get made.
So, from that perspective, we’ve had him before. Hopefully, we know how to play within his outlook of the game, and put together a performance accordingly.”
Wales were far from perfect in their quarter-final against France, and going on quality of performance alone, France should have progressed to the last four.
But a red card didn’t help the French at all when it came to sustaining that impressive showing they put on early in the game, and Wales eventually got the match-winning try late in the game to steal a win. But the Boks, who went in at halftime leading Japan 5-3 in Tokyo, will know very well that they can’t comment too much on their next opposition’s far-from-perfect quarter-final performance. They can, however, feel confident about their second half.
Despite Wales’ performance against France, Louw believes underestimating Warren Gatland’s team will be at their own peril. The Boks have lost their last four matches against the Six Nations champions.
“I don’t think they are being taken lightly. I think it is an understatement to say they are an outside team trying to win the World Cup. Bookmakers are there to make money,” Louw said.
“From a rugby perspective, they’ve been playing consistently well for the last few years, and even floated as the No 1 in the world for a few days or hours.
“At no stage would anyone underestimate them. You do that at your peril. They are a fantastic outfit, a very well organised and structured side that wholeheartedly relies on their systems to perform.”@WynonaLouw