Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer


Peyper weighs in on Bok ‘Bomb Squad’ debate — ‘It’s safe’

The Boks' laws and referees advisor was also questioned about the performance of referee Luke Pearce in the match at Loftus.


Springbok Laws and Discipline advisor Jaco Peyper weighed into the ‘Bomb Squad’ furore on Monday, after the Boks deployed six forwards at the same time during their 27-20 win over Ireland at Loftus over the past weekend.

Much of what the Boks do comes under a lot of scrutiny, especially from pundits from the North and they were once again in the spotlight when coach Rassie Erasmus sent his ‘Bomb Squad’ on in the 50th minute of the match.

Only Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kwagga Smith remained on the field, with the other starting forwards all subbed, which brought fresh forward power to the pack, which paid off towards the end of the game with a penalty try from a monstrous scrum.

Whining pundits

Northern based pundits have once again started whining about the Boks‘ bench tactics, with former Scotland coach Matt Williams, who has been a vocal critic of the Boks’ bench tactics, especially after they deployed the 7-1 against the All Blacks at Twickenham last year, again getting worked up. He called the move to send six forwards into action from the bench by the Boks ‘unsafe’ and discriminatory to backline players.

However, Peyper laughed off suggestions that there was anything wrong with the tactic and backed it up with actual proof.

“The law is pretty clear that you can do it. I don’t think a six-two split makes the sport dangerous. What makes the sport dangerous is when players don’t level-change, drop their height into contact, when players take risks in the air and don’t respect the players in the air,” explained Peyper.

“Ireland played with a six-two split three times in the Six Nations and nobody talked about it then. So, I think it’s probably focused on (us, the Boks) because it was effective. At this point, the safety of the game is determined by the shape of the game.

“The laws are specifically there to protect the head, playing in the air, and scrum. When you pre-engage it puts a lot of stress on the neck. Those are the things that make the game dangerous, not a pair of fresh legs.

“I’ve seen a piece written by Dr Ross Tucker (well-known sports scientist), which stated the risk of injury goes down when fresher players enter the field.”

Ref performance

At the Bok presser in Durban on Monday, ahead of the second match between the Boks and Ireland at Kings Park on Saturday, Peyper was also questioned about the performance of referee Luke Pearce in the match at Loftus, and on some of the calls made in favour of the Boks.

That included two key moments involving Irish wing James Lowe, when his try was ruled out due to an earlier Irish infringement at a breakdown, and when he kept the ball in play from a Bok penalty kick to touch, which Cheslin Kolbe scored from.

“It’s got to be factual based. If you get points scored from that, they’re going to have to look at that turnover. Factually, the player is off his feet and he turns over possession. Sometimes you don’t want to step in touch but you’re in touch,” said Peyper about the disallowed try.

“Sometimes you don’t want to make that turnover when you’re off your feet, but you still do it, even though you don’t mean it. Factually it is off his feet when the turnover is made. So the try can’t be scored.”

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