Cape Town - Richie McCaw may be out of Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks and All Blacks, but there is a concern about
another breakdown influencer during the game.
According to the supersport.com website, Frenchman Romain Poite - who refereed the Boks’ win over Scotland in
Nelspruit in June, has been appointed to handle the match.
Ireland's George Clancy was originally scheduled to be the man in the middle, but when Alain Rolland
withdrew due to injury before the Brisbane Test last Saturday, Clancy stepped into the
role and fulfilled his duties, with Welshman Nigel Owens flying in to
be touch judge in the Boks 38-12 demolition of Australia.
The IRB decided on Poite as he was the next available referee and is
highly regarded by the reffing selectors as he was also given one of the Test matches between the British and Irish Lions and Australia this
But it is the way that Poite reffed the breakdown against Scotland that
has the Boks worried. Adaptability is the key in all respects when it
comes to the whistleblowers, but it took the Boks almost an hour to
adapt and ensure they got on top of Scotland in that game.
If the Boks take anywhere near that long this time around they will be
in big trouble. Not only are the All Blacks the masters of the dark arts
when it comes to the breakdown, but they are very effective as well.
What Scotland did in Nelspruit was take out the defender behind the
ruck, opening up the gap for their halfbacks to attack. It was a ploy
that should have been penalised severely but Poite let it go, confounding
the Bok problems on the day.
The All Blacks are very experienced when it comes to taking up space
beyond the ruck, and removing defending players, so the Boks will have
to once again ensure they face the threat and put extra effort into
protecting their ball if Poite is in the same mood this weekend.
But while the Boks will ultimately remind Poite of Nelspruit and hope he
will make the breakdown a fair contest, they have a pretty solid
argument for doing so.
Looking at the stats of the Brisbane win the Boks made 17 turnovers in
the game, a massive 14 of which were at the breakdown. Two of those
turnovers resulted in tries for Jean de Villiers and Willie le Roux.
More impressive from the stats was the defence, which saw Australia only
make two line breaks in the game. The Bok tackle count was 115 and they
tackled at a massive 93% success rate.
If they can replicate these statistics this weekend they may not have to
worry about Poite, although the wish would be that like any referee, he
be consistent, allow a contest and allow teams to get quick ball to