Referee bashing is an unfortunate past-time of disgruntled Springbok supporters but to be fair to the
Bok pack, referee Ben O’Keefe was not overly kind to them in the defeat to Ireland, as scrum coach Daan Human alluded to in a media interview.
The Boks play Tonga on Sunday at the Rugby World Cup and they are still scratching their heads as to how an apparent scrum dominance over the Irish translated into some penalties for the men in emerald green.
The Boks are hoping to take their frustration out on a hefty Tongan pack, according to Human, who has been the scrum doctor for the Stormers and Toulouse, while as a player he played four Tests for the Boks in 2002.
“Some areas of the field were wet when we played Ireland and one of the penalties we gave away was because Frans’ (Malherbe’s) feet slipped out from under him,” Human said.
“That is something we can fix. It’s a technical thing.
“I’m also not sure if we’re allowed to play with 25mm studs in the World Cup, but we can maybe put in a request.
“From there, we may slip a little bit less,” Human said, choosing his words carefully.
“In one other infringement, we out-hit Ireland because we had picked a seven-one bench split and they couldn’t handle the heat, and in the very next one, they stood up.
“Remember, the second infringement then becomes a penalty, but the penalties are technical, while the pictures we saw were dominant ones.
“We always create and try to show that picture, but sometimes you slip.
“Also, we will never point a finger at one player because it’s a team effort.”
Tonga were disappointing in their opening match against Ireland. They fought hard in the first half before capitulating, and against Scotland, they also started well only to fall away badly.
Human reckons the best is still to come from Tonga and that they will get stuck into the Boks in their final outing at the World Cup.
“I think they probably have the heaviest pack in the competition,” Human said.
“They’ve got a massive hit and we need to be able to handle that.
“They scrum very well, and they also put Ireland under a lot of pressure.
“They’ve got a hell of a pack and they will feel that they have nothing to lose against us.
“They will give it their all.” Human has had a full contingent of forwards at training this week, despite the physicality of the Ireland game.
Vincent Koch, who was withdrawn at the last minute against Romania, has got through training unscathed and on Sunday will be the last Bok to get some World Cup action. The other 32 players have all played.
The Boks have been criticised for not mauling enough against Ireland after choosing to take long-range kicks at goal instead of aiming for the corners, but Human hinted that the Boks will go back to this strength.
He also said the Bok pack is targeting push-over tries against the Tongans,
“One hundred percent we want to get a pushover try,” he said.
“I’m not going to say what it does to me, but for a scrum coach that’s the thing you dream about.
“For the team as well, because they deserve it, especially the way the guys are working and grafting week in and week out.
“They never complain, they never say, ‘no, not one more’, because they know it’s working.
“It’s been working for us in the past and I’m sure it will work for us going forward.
“It’s awesome the way that the guys train. They can handle it. They’re built for this – this is what we do.”