The Springbok coach, Jacques Nienaber, praised his team after their victory over Scotland on Sunday and said it was the “first step in the right direction”.
The Boks beat the Scots 18 – 3 in their first World Cup game for 2023 on Sunday evening. Nienaber said after the match that it was a difficult match, but a positive start for the defending champions. He also had to answer some tough questions about using traffic lights to communicate with officials on the pitch, as well as Bok lock Eben Etzebeth’s shoulder injury.
“We always knew it was going to be a tough fight, so this is a step in the right direction. We are now focusing on our game against Romania and not even thinking about Ireland yet.” South Africa will play Romania this coming Saturday at 15:00.
Nienaber also gave credit to the Scots for excellent defence. “They play with a lot of speed and innovation when they are on the attack, so we had to be very sharp to limit their options. Our players have worked very hard on and off the field in the past week to keep them at a distance.”
About the Boks’ scrum, captain Siya Kolisi said, “We didn’t start like we usually do and at half-time we agreed we had to do better, because the fixed facets are very important to us.”
He also defended flyhalf Manie Libbok’s three misses. “We play as a team. So if you play badly on the day, someone else takes over. He’s not going to be good at everything every day. That’s why we work together. We are not worried about that.”
Rassie Erasmus’ use of traffic lights to communicate with the medical team, something for which this head of South African rugby came under fire as coach of the Free State, raised eyebrows again.
When asked if it had a tactical purpose, Nienaber said: “It’s a method we used at Munster in 2016 and which we used again yesterday. It has nothing to do with tactics, it’s simply an easy way to communicate with the medical team about injuries.” According to Nienaber, it was not necessary to get permission from World Rugby in advance to use it.
Regarding lock Eben Etzebeth’s shoulder injury, Nienaber said they will only know how serious it is after he has been properly examined by a doctor. On Sunday, 26 minutes into the game, Etzebeth was off the field due to the injury.
If he has to miss a few games, it will certainly be a big loss for the Goats.