Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber was quick to admit his side had absolutely no problem with referee Andrew Brace in their extremely tight 27-26 loss against England on Saturday, despite a late yellow card to captain Siya Kolisi and a penalty in the final minute of the match which England converted to win.
The Kolisi decision, which came in the 76th minute, was definitely a debatable one with it looking like a fair contest between himself and Joe Marchant, who managed to out-jump him in the air as both contested a chip from Marcus Smith.
However, there was no doubt over the last minute penalty against Frans Steyn who came flying into a ruck incorrectly and was justifiably penalised in front of the uprights, with Smith making it four successful kicks on the night to give England the win.
“We had no problem with the ref. I don’t know what the penalty count was, but I think England conceded more penalties than we did, so I have no issues with the referee and team of four,” said Nienaber when quizzed on their performance in the post-match press conference.
“The reffing is something we will have to look at. We always do in terms of getting alignment with them and the key thing in getting that alignment is to get a better product for the spectator,” Nienaber added.
“The more aligned we are with the ref the less we will make errors. There will be less penalties and more ball in play time and it will be a more open, non stop-start game.”
Nienaber was also quick to praise the performance of England, who despite having a number of experienced players in their side also had a lot of youngsters coming through, including a rookie front row, with this game only the second for prop Bevan Rodd and fifth for hooker Jamie Blamire.
However, it was another youngster who impressed the most, with England’s 20-year-old fullback Freddie Steward putting in a fantastic performance that saw him score a try and named Man of the Match after a wonderful showing at the back.
“I have always said that I think this is going to be a quality England team. If you look at their starting team they had nine players that played in the World Cup final, and we had 10, so there are a lot of similarities in that,” admitted Nienaber.
“I thought they played well and put on a proper Test match for their home fans here at Twickenham.”