In a clear sign the Springboks are concerned about the dominance of the Wallaby scrum, Bok coach Peter de Villiers, has enlisted the help of the IRB to help solve his team’s woes. After the Wallabies got the better of the Boks in both Cape Town and Perth, de Villiers has written to IRB referees chief, Paddy O’Brien, in order to get some clarification, or leverage perhaps, in relation to why his team is getting penalised.
“I did write to Paddy O’Brien so the ref on the weekend (Bryce Lawrence) can give me clarity on what we did wrong in the scrums. I can’t understand it, we went to study the game and I can’t understand a few of those penalties, I don’t know where they came from.”
“But because he (Lawrence) was the ref he knows and if they can give us the report before tomorrow morning (Tuesday), before we do scrumming – that’s one area we will definitely need to brush up”
From my viewpoint most of those penalties were fairly easy to read. It simply looked as if the Boks could not take the pressure that was being applied to it by the Wallaby front row.
It is inconceivable the Bokke coaches and players wouldn’t know what is going on so it can only be a thinly veiled attempt to influence this week’s referee Wayne Barnes. No doubt the idea is to get Barnes in a frame of mind so he has a pre-conceived idea about who the culprit is when a scrum collapses.
A similar tactic was on show in Cape Town when referee Alain Rolland was conned into awarding a scrum penalty on the say-so of John Smit – even as the Bokke scrum imploded.
This attempt to influence Barnes via the IRB is a worry for the Wallabies as the Springboks have never lost a test that has been controlled by the Englishman.
In a Tri-nations tournament where highlights have been few and far between, Wallabies Hooker Stephen Moore was happy with how the scrum was going but was quick to warn the Boks should not be written off.
“I thought they were better in Perth than they were in Cape Town and no doubt they’ll be better again this week. It is a positive for us, particularly Ben Alexander to come in with limited experience at tight-head and I think he’s progressing really well. He would have gained a heap of confidence out of last Saturday as well”
The Springbok coach is also facing dilemma with the Boks dominance of the line-out under some threat due to injuries to key forwards Bakkies Botha and Andries Bekker, who has flown home with a shoulder injury.
“Bakkies suffered a knock on his abdomen but that is not the big worry. We are concerned about his knee more than anything else that’s why he didn’t take part in today’s session” de Villiers explained
“Another worry is Danie Rossouw, he is not an 80 minute player. He hasn’t played for a while, he’s fit, but we haven’t used him a lot so that is our concern at the moment”
“We’ve got three weeks and this is a tough tour so we need to manage our players rather than be tough on them”