Boks have to adapt to the ref

2010-07-22 22:40

JJ Harmse

Brisbane – Adapt or die.

That is the wake-up call from Springbok lock and vice-captain Victor Matfield, as well as tighthead prop BJ Botha, to the rest of their team-mates ahead of Saturday’s crucial Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies at the Suncorp Stadium.

It is particularly crucial for the Boks as an away victory is priceless in the competition.

The Springboks have to show they are still contenders after suffering two big blows against the All Blacks.

Frustration concerning referees’ handling of the breakdowns and an apparent bias against the Boks’ physical style has prompted South African rugby bosses to complain at administrative level.

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) will express their concern about the inconsistent procedures with the citing of players in writing.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers also said in an interview with Australia’s Fox TV-network that his team are the victims of a World Cup tournament that will be played in New Zealand next year.

“Perhaps I should not say it in public, but maybe it was the right thing that they (the All Blacks) won,” he said.

On Saturday, however, it will be up to the players to show that they can win their own fights.

“We simply have to adapt better. The first priority will be not to get a yellow card because once that happens you chase the game,” said Matfield.

“One gets a feel after about 20 minutes about how the referee is applying the laws at the breakdowns and scrums, and you have to adapt accordingly,” added the veteran, who will play in his 98th Test.

The Springboks were down 3-20 in Auckland and 0-10 in Wellington inside those 20-minute periods that Matfield was referring to.

This means that the Boks will have to adapt even quicker, especially as Irish referee George Clancy is a relatively unknown quantity for the team.

The referee from Limerick will handle his 12th Test, but his first in the Tri-Nations.

Fortunately for the Boks, Botha knows him quite well and that knowledge can be of great value in the scrums as that is where the Boks want to overpower the Aussies.

“The first hit at the first scrum is very important for any front row. The problem is that you are not sure then what the referee’s rhythm will be, so it remains a big challenge,” said Botha.

“Clancy likes to let the game flow, which will suit both teams. However, how we fare at the scrums and breakdowns will depend on how quickly we adapt.”

The Wallaby scrum is notorious for its ability to be able to neutralise opponents’ good scrumming. Botha believes the Boks will be able to handle the trickery of Wallaby loosehead Benn Robinson.


  • Vic J - 2010-07-22 23:37

    I agree, but surely the Northen hemisphere must also adapt to the way we play down South. Still do not know why this should be as this is a international sport and all rules should apply for North and South.

  • Tommygun - 2010-07-23 00:58

    The problem with this wet behind the ears kid, is he has to ref just like the other two senior men or he will show them up. I now know what the IRA stands for ( Irish Referee"ing" Arsholes)

  • greg - 2010-07-23 03:08

    I'm from the soccer fraternity and would like to understand why there's always talk of refs before every Springbok match. Do the rules change before every game? Please make me understand.

  • Burgiesburnin - 2010-07-23 07:09

    Adapt to the ref, no, just play to the laws like everyone else and stop making it up as you go along to be able to blame the ref.

  • Why? - 2010-07-23 07:27

    Why 3 European Refs in the first 3 Tri-Nations games. Very odd !!!. Why European Refs in the Tri-Nations at all? Is it because the AUS and NZ Refs are so bad that they are not worthy? Their performances in the Super 14 do suggest so.

  • Anton - 2010-07-23 07:33

    AG PLEASE MAN!!! How can you adapt to the ref if he blows the whistle everytime you get the ball??? I smell a big rat!

  • scrum cap - 2010-07-23 07:43

    So the penny has finally dropped after two successive defeats! I find it strange that this revelation came from the Bok vice-captain and not the Aussie media's favourite clown, and our national coach.Why am I not surprised?

  • Khaki - 2010-07-23 07:48

    The ref must handle the game within the laws. North oor south is the same. There is a different rule book for Macaw though.

  • Pierre - 2010-07-23 08:00

    Follow the rules, even if their interpretation is cock-eyed. The use of external refs is great then there is a third party input. Style of refs game is great - running rugby. SA must learn to get the ball out quick to benefit their capability. Shown up twice against NZ. The infringements off-ball are where the "niggles" start. Pull the jersey, bail into a ruck and run out the otherside pulling 2 players with you. Stand off-side on the side of the maul/ruck facing your side and obstruct the opposition. I believe that that there should be a weekly rule presented as to how it should be interpreted, panel of SA Refs?... or more ie. NZ, AUS, UK, ITA, FRA etc...

  • cheats.. - 2010-07-23 08:09

    McCaw + Refs = cheats..!!!

  • LOSERS - 2010-07-23 08:26


  • KD - 2010-07-23 08:38

    This statement is exactly whats wrong with rugby at the moment. Surely there is one rule book to which a team has to adhere to. If players have to adapt their game to that of the refs idea on whats right and wrong then chuck the rule book out the window and lets play. The problem is definately refs who cant understand the rule book or else why do players adjust to his interpretations. One rule book REFS read it or find another job.

  • STFUP MATFIELD - 2010-07-23 10:41

    So is this clown the new spokesperson for the Boks? It is because of the BB arrogant attitude in NZ that Bok rugby is in such a state. Matfield should be dropped with Smit. No place for BB mentality in a national team. Talking about cheating Div...What’s up with your business partnership with 1 of your players, Mr. Matfield!? Pathetic! This means he CANNOT be dropped! Cheating?...what do you call Kurt Darren handing out the Bok jerseys....another business partner of Div and Matfield! Rotten Bokteam!

  • Nick Hearn - 2010-07-23 16:17

    It is quite simple the boks got two yellow cards in the first two Tests - what happenend to the All Black player that shoulder charged the Springbok and wasnt even cited - Cmon lets all play to the same rules.

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