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How The South African Rugby Press Viewed Ireland's Win Over The Springboks

How The South African Rugby Press Viewed Ireland's Win Over The Springboks
By Gary Reilly
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In the words of George Hook, Ireland's win over the Springboks was 'one of the most extraordinary victories in the history of Irish rugby'. However, a great win for Ireland was a very bad defeat for a South African side who had, just last month, managed to beat the All Blacks in a thrilling Rugby Championship encounter.

Make no mistake about it, this win for Ireland has severely dented the confidence of a rugby nation who had, and still have, very real ambitions of claiming the upcoming World Cup. Being comprehensively beaten by a depleted Irish squad is certainly not being taken as the 'we'll use this as a marker' kind of performance that it might be.

We've already seen how some of the South African fans reacted to the defeat but perhaps even more enlightening is the view from the press box.

Jon Cardinelli for SA Rugby Magazine put the defeat in context from a Springbok point of view.

The performance served up at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday was one of the worst of the 2014 season. Physical intent, defensive organisation, tactical intelligence, decision-making ... the Boks were found wanting in all departments.

And against whom? A second-rate Ireland missing the bulk of their first-choice players. Heyneke Meyer may try to spin this as a wake-up call, as a valuable lesson a year out from the World Cup. But if this contest was to be viewed in isolation, one would have to say that Ireland were ordinary, and the Boks were just plain awful.


From an Irish point of view, it is worth noting that Cardinelli made special mention of Johnny Sexton's man of the match award which he says was undeserved for his wastefulness with the ball in hand.


I was surprised to see that Jonny Sexton won the official Man of the Match award. Ireland were dominant for most of the game, but some poor line kicking by Sexton often gifted possession back to the South Africans. However, you can’t argue with his flawless goal-kicking.

Rob Houwing for Sport 24 was particularly damning of the South African particularly in his analysis of the back's performance with Francois Hougaard being singled out for special mention.

South Africa were simply outfoxed in the final analysis, and they have plenty to think about - particularly in the ineffectual back division - ahead of next weekend’s clash with England at Twickenham.

A ferocious scrummaging effort helped install front-rankers Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira as the Bok standouts on the Sport24 performance chart.

Francois Hougaard: 4  

Oh dear, the yips are back! Terribly fumbling display, especially at critical times with Boks on offensive. When he did get his passes off, some of them went seriously adrift to only compound his woes.

Simon Borchardt, also for SA Rugby Magazine, gave special mention to how Ireland's new centre pairing faired in the aftermath of Brian O'Driscoll's retirement.

Henshaw had been anointed by O'Driscoll as his successor at outside centre, but was given the No 12 jersey in his fourth Test, with Payne making his Test debut at 13. The duo had limited attacking opportunities, but grew in confidence as the match progressed, with Henshaw making tackles and hitting rucks, and Payne having a go with ball in hand and getting across to make cover tackles.

With D'Arcy sure to return at 12, Henshaw and Payne may never play in the same midfield again, but they can be proud of their performance against the more experienced Jean de Villiers and Jan Serfontein.

Perhaps the main talking point from a South African point of view was Romain Poite's decision to sin-bin Adriaan Strauss and while it was mentioned in the various reports and analyses, there has been a clear indication that while Poite's decision was debatable to say the least, that was far from South Africa's only downfall.

This courtesy of Gavin Rich for Supersport.

That man Romaine Poite, he who sent off Bismarck du Plessis in Auckland last year, again invoked the ire of South African fans by yellow carding the Boks’ other hooker, Adriaan Strauss, this time.

It came at a critical stage of the game, with 14 minutes to go, and the Boks trailing by six points, and it had a marked impact on the game, with the Irish scoring 10 points in the 10 minutes he was off and effectively wrapping up the match.

However, while his brush of the Ireland player in the air might seem an innocuous reason to reduce the game to the farce of 15 against 14, and probably is, Poite was nonetheless correct in his ruling as the player did have both feet off the ground when he was played.

See also: The South African Twitter Reaction To That Glorious Irish Victory
See also: George Hook Eats A Particularly Large Slice Of Humble Pie

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