Durban – The dust had not yet settled on the Springboks’ 30-26 defeat to France when Rassie Erasmus once again took to social media to voice his displeasure at refereeing decisions – but you have to wonder if SA Rugby’s director of rugby has gone too far and that after winning a major battle in the series against the British & Irish Lions last year, he is now losing a war with World Rugby.
You can’t blame referees for being twitchy around the Springboks because they are fearing a video assassination and I thought Wayne Barnes had done a good job in Marseille until the last 10 minutes or so.
Deon Fourie should never have been sin-binned as the Boks pushed for victory. It was a first offence in the Boks’ 22, while the French were allowed three penalties in their danger zone without a yellow card.
Also, France’s second try, the match-clincher, was seriously dubious because there was a double movement from the hooker and then, mysteriously, communication was lost with the TMO so it could not be reviewed!
I am not usually a conspiracy theorist but I am wondering if a concerned Frenchman pulled the plug!
Whatever the case, the Boks know that they have struck a psychological blow ahead of next year’s World Cup – and that is what this game was all about – because they dominated the French in just about every aspect of the game.
Had not been for the misfortune of Bok centre Damian de Allende accidentally propelling flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit into the face of a French forward at a ruck in the 12th minute, the Boks would have won on the scoreboard too.
I know guys and accept it, we really only have ourselves to blame as the French were awsome both on the field (players)and off the field (supporters)!! We just have to fix these fundamental errors like tackle technique and simple passing 👇🏿Sorry 🇿🇦 we know 💔 pic.twitter.com/hte6ggyXk9
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) November 12, 2022
The South Africans played almost all of the rugby, and with 14 men for most of the game, they were extremely unlucky to lose Fourie when they were pressing for the win.
It is a reality that the Boks have lost two from two on tour so far, with Italy this week and then England to come, but a year out from the World Cup, it is not only results that matter but how you are playing the game, and the Boks have shot up the improvement curve after an iffy game in Dublin.
Italy will be tough this week. They are on a roll after adding the scalp of Australia to that of Wales (from the Six Nations earlier this year), and both of those teams have given the Boks headaches this year.
Bok coach Jacques Nienaber said that results this year have proved that the gap is narrowing between the big teams and the chasers.
“France are certainly close to being the favourites for the World Cup,” he said.
“The last game they lost was against Australia in 2021 and they have won 12 on the trot now. I don’t think there is any other team that has come close to that streak recently.
“That said, one could see by Italy beating Australia that there is a lot of competition in world rugby at the moment.
“We go to Genoa knowing we have a very big challenge ahead of us,” Nienaber added.
“Right now we are hurting deeply because the players showed a lot of attitude and put in a great effort.
“The effort was actually extraordinary and the reality is that we lost by four points against the second-ranked team in the world at home and the previous week by three points against the top-ranked team (Ireland).”