Coenie: Save us from the refs
Johannesburg – Save us from the referees!
That was the plea from Coenie Oosthuizen on behalf of loosehead props on Wednesday when he was quizzed about his excellent season with the Cheetahs in the Super Rugby tournament.
Oosthuizen (22) may make his Test debut for South Africa as a substitute in next Saturday’s Tri-Nations rugby Test against Australia in Sydney. He represented the Springboks in a tour game against the Barbarians at the end of last year.
This year Oosthuizen has caught the eye in more ways than one – whether it was with a powerful carry of the ball, a goose step or in the scrums. And in the latter instance it was not always in the manner that he wanted to as he was penalised by referees on numerous occasions.
“The season was a very funny one. We conceded a lot of penalties at the beginning of the season because referees did not really have an idea what was going on in the scrums. They never played there ... if something went wrong, the loosehead was always penalised,” said Oosthuizen.
“It made things difficult and initially I was penalised a lot. I worked on it and in the end was penalised less. I learned a harsh lesson by conceding so many penalties.
“Things are falling into place now. I played some good rugby in the Super Rugby tournament and could not ask for more.”
Oosthuizen would, however, like the powers that be to look at the interpretation of the laws so that looseheads don’t get penalised for the skulduggery of opposing tightheads.
“Most of the penalties against me were for hinging (when your backside is higher than your head). The referees gain the impression that you are hinging when the scrum collapses. It’s easy for the tighthead to dive down and then the loosehead has to keep him up.
“Any tighthead who is heavy enough will just go to ground and then the loosehead is penalised! I’m not saying the referees were always wrong, but I think the laws at the scrums should be adapted.
“Generally they penalised the looseheads more than anyone else on the field – not even the flankers were penalised as often as we were!”
Apart from a little goodwill from referees, Oosthuizen also hopes to make the Bok squad of 22 for this year’s first Tri-Nations test against Australia on 23 July.
Bulls props Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger are expected to pack down either side of captain John Smit in the starting line-up.
Oosthuizen has demonstrated this year that he is much more than a scrummager.
“It’s nice to carry the ball, but if a loosehead hits 40 rucks in a game it’s also an amazing contribution. Every guy has something unique that makes him special.”
What does Oosthuizen enjoy doing apart from the things generally expected from a prop?
“I love stealing the ball! I always have a little competition going with Heinrich (Brüssow). The most I have poached in a game is six.”