Well, what a week it has been. And you can be sure the Springboks will be a fired up bunch going into Saturday’s Test against England at Twickenham. World Rugby have made sure of that.
If the game’s governing body thought they’d struck a blow to the Boks by giving their verdict about the infamous Rassie Erasmus video late on Wednesday, three days before the big match at Twickenham, they’re in for a big surprise.
All that the judgement has done is fire up the Boks. They’ll grow an extra arm and a leg and an extra set of lungs and they’re going to be even more ruthless, brutal and powerful than they’ve been at any other time while on tour in the UK. England have it coming their way.
Announcing Erasmus’ ban and fine for SA Rugby, and stating in their judgement that captain Siya Kolisi was out of line by saying he felt disrespected by referee Nic Berry in the first Test against the Lions in July, World Rugby might have hoped to put the Boks off ahead of Saturday’s game.
But we all know how South African teams, and the Boks especially, respond when they have their backs to the wall. If you give the Boks a reason to “fight” they’re going to come out swinging.
They’re going to be as dangerous as they’ve ever been this weekend.
And, to stay with the Kolisi section in World Rugby’s verdict, how can they bring into question his feelings of being disrespected by the officials when the footage about exactly that is there for all to see. It is shocking.
And referee Berry walks away from the match, and the hearing and verdict, saying his integrity and reputation were attacked by Erasmus’ video, but the reality is he had a poor game and made several errors.
It really is time that World Rugby review their referee-review system. If I understand it, all referee reviews are currently kept private and “in-house”, so no-one knows what scores referees are given by their reviewers, and I believe this process should now become available to the public.
Right, moving onto the game itself on Saturday, I think the Boks will make it three out of three in the UK.
Their defence will stand up to England and the forwards and bench will prove too strong over 80 minutes. A few individuals will test the Boks, but as a unit the hosts won’t be able to compete… the Boks are in serious form right now.
Expect some typical Eddie Jones plays to unsettle the Boks and look to the likes of Lawes and Curry to play a spoiling game, like they did for the British and Irish Lions in July and August – especially at maul time – but the tourists will be prepared for this.
I think the Boks will win; the starters will lay a solid platform, do the hard yards, and the bench boys will see the team home. It’s all set up to be an absolutely cracking game.