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Matt Williams Comments About Rassie's Bomb Squad Not Going Down Well In South Africa

Matt Williams Comments About Rassie's Bomb Squad Not Going Down Well In South Africa
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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Ahead of this weekend's second test between South Africa and Ireland, it will be interesting to see what tactical tweaks the sides make for the game in Durban.

It was clear that Ireland struggled to deal with the Springboks attack in the opening half of Saturday's first test, something they will need to work on over the coming days. They will take encouragement from the performances from Craig Casey and Jamie Osborne, although there will be some selection decisions for Andy Farrell to make on the back of a growing injury list.

From a South African point of view, it will likely be more of the same. They were the dominant side for most the match, although they will look to be a bit more clinical in attack.

One thing that certainly won't change is their use of the bench. The Springboks' 'bomb squad' has become the stuff of legends over the last few years, with Rassie Erasmus opting for 6-2 split for the first test.

That unit would be deployed less than ten minutes into the second half, at which point all six pack players were introduced. They certainly had an impact on the game, most notably during the penalty try in the final few minutes.

While South Africa continue to lean into this forward heavy approach at test level, it is a move that has not gone down well in some quarters.

READ HERE: Andy Farrell Makes His Feelings Known On TMO Decisions In South Africa Loss


Matt Williams comments not going down well in South Africa

South Africa are not the only side to use a 6-2 or even 7-1 split on the bench at test level, with Ireland and other nations having also gone down that route on occasion in the recent past. In saying that, nobody quite leans into it like Rassie Eramsus and his team.

Matt Williams is someone who has publicly hammered the move, saying it is a safety risk and against the spirit of the game. That is a point he was keen to make once again over the weekend.

Speaking on the VMTV Rugby Pod, Williams said that while he was not being directly critical of South Africa, he said their use of the bench goes against the 'ethos' of rugby.



At the 49 minute mark, six South African forwards walked onto the field. Is that what the replacement laws were safely designed for?

That is not any criticism of South Africa, it's not a criticism of Rassie [Erasmus], it's a criticism of World Rugby that allows that to happen.

That is not what our game is designed for. The South Africans took full advantage of a loophole in the system...

It discriminates against backs, our game is for all shapes and sizes. We had 14 forwards in that game (for South Africa), that is not what our game is designed for. It's not what the ancients designed it for, it's not what we did in the 80s, 90s, or 00s...

The whole replacement laws are going to be reviewed in November and they need serious review. This is abusing what our game is meant to be. It's abusing our ethos, it's abusing our traditions, and it's abusing our safety laws. It has to change.

I have no criticism of South Africa or Rassie for doing it, because it is legal...

The law has to be changed, not the coaches. The coach's job is to win the game, the responsibility sits with World Rugby.

Williams has been perhaps the most vocal critic of this move, continually raising this point during the Springboks' run at last year's Rugby World Cup.

As you might imagine, his latest comments have not gone down all that well in South Africa.

South Africa are highly unlikely to change their current approach, unless it is outlawed by the authorities.

Whether that would be good for the sport can be debated, but there is no doubt that the current Springboks side bring a huge amount of entertainment value to rugby both on and off the pitch.

SEE ALSO: Bernard Jackman Points Out Issue That Cost Ireland In South Africa Loss

bernard jackman ireland south africa
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