The Springboks will have to adapt to referee Wayne Barnes's breakdown interpretations if they are to have any chance of beating Wales in the World Cup quarter-final, reports JON CARDINELLI in Bagshot.
Earlier this week, Schalk Burger reflected on South Africa’s defeat to Australia in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final. Four years after the event, and many of South Africa’s senior players still harbour a lot of disappointment due to the manner of their early exit.
Referee Bryce Lawrence got it completely wrong in that quarter-final, particularly at the breakdown. And yet one cannot place all the blame on the official for South Africa’s failure. No excuses. The Boks should have adapted to the situation and taken control of the contest.
This is the attitude the class of 2015 is taking into the upcoming quarter-final against Wales. Unlike Lawrence, Barnes is a stickler for the laws, and has enforced them strictly over the course of this tournament.
Barnes was particularly hard on the Boks when they played Samoa in the Pool B match at Villa Park on 26 September. While South Africa won by a comfortable margin, they conceded 15 penalties. They didn’t have everything their own way at the breakdown and, as has been the trend at this tournament, were nailed for not rolling away at the ruck.
On Wednesday, Heyneke Meyer said he was pleased to hear about Barnes’s appointment for the game at Twickenham on Saturday. The Bok coach praised the English referee and highlighted his consistency.
‘That is all you can ask for as a coach and player,’ said Meyer. ‘That helps a great deal with your preparation, when you know a referee is consistent. We go into this game knowing what to expect.
‘He’s one of the best refs in the world, and has had a great World Cup. He has a good feeling for the game, particularly at the maul.
'He has been hard on defending players not rolling away from breakdown. We will need to adapt this weekend, because you can’t afford to give away too many penalties in a World Cup play-off.’
Bok flank Francois Louw said that the players must also take it upon themselves to control the contest. Most referees reward the side that is winning the battle at the gainline. If the Boks lose the battle at the collisions, they could also lose the battle at the breakdowns.
‘Wales have some excellent loose forwards who will try to influence the speed of our game at the ruck,’ Louw said. ‘We’ve got to make sure that we get there first and that we are accurate in clearing their ball-poachers away.’
Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire