You got to hand it to the Springboks, their message on the Owen Farrell tackle continues to be consistent.
Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick and centre Damian de Allende on Tuesday both declared the team’s aim to complete robust hits against France on Saturday, especially given the fact that it’s – at least based on last weekend’s Twickenham Test – legal.
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“World Rugby always sets standards and as the Springboks we always make sure we keep up with and follow those standards,” said Stick.
“Angus Gardner is a world-class referee, who is rated by World Rugby. If he says what happened at Twickenham was a fair tackle, I think that’s something we must also try because we are trying to keep up with the game and make sure we keep up with the laws.”
Head coach Rassie Erasmus was the first to raise that point at the post-match media conference in London.
The whole saga builds on a widely circulated video, shot at the Boks’ training session on Monday, where Erasmus is seen clearly instructing Andre Esterhuizen to aim his tackle higher.
Esterhuizen was the man at the receiving end of the Farrell hit.
Stick didn’t comment on the video.
De Allende was a bit more reserved and insisted he wasn’t aware of a plan to specifically alter the way the Boks tackle.
“No, but we did speak about the tackle,” he said.
“Obviously there was a lot of hype about the tackle. It is what it is, that’s World Rugby’s problem. If that is right, we should also start tackling like that. There was nothing wrong with the tackle so we can also start doing that.”
The 26-year-old, who delivered one of his better attacking performances at Twickenham, also emphasised the importance of the Boks adapting and “respecting” the heavier conditions in the Northern Hemisphere.
“Our approach to the matches up in the northern hemisphere has also changed a bit because you have to respect the conditions in Europe and the way the game is played up here,” said De Allende.
“I think we are getting there, and we are working on how to vary our game so that we can constantly look for opportunities.”