Rugby Championship

Springboks go diplomatic route as ref debate rages: 'It's a difficult job'

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Deon Davids. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Deon Davids. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
  • The Springboks have adopted a diplomatic line to refereeing ahead of Saturday's Test against the Wallabies.
  • Their scrum dominance in particular was met with little reward last week, but assistant coach Deon Davids pointed out it's a difficult area for refs to adjudicate.
  • Davids also said he sympathises with both the refs and players on the issue.

Unlike the more stern - critics will say inflammatory - Rassie Erasmus, the day-to-day Springbok coaching staff have adopted a distinctly diplomatic line to refereeing ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship "rematch" against the Wallabies in Brisbane.

South Africa were left high and dry in last weekend's 26-28 defeat by Luke Pearce's officiating at scrum time as their general dominance was met with little reward.

But forwards guru Deon Davids believes the Boks' best answer for overcoming this challenge is to simply continue trying to find common ground with the men with the whistles.

"It's obvious that set-pieces are a very important part of our game. Talking of the scrums, it's an area that's very difficult to officiate," he said.

"I think the important thing for us, looking back, is to make sure that there's alignment with the pictures we see as coaches and what referees see, so that going forward we can understand how to interpret what is the areas we can work on."

Given the continued debate over the standard of refereeing around the world, that view is honourable though perhaps still ineffective in addressing the root causes.

Also, the Springboks arguably use set-pieces as a cornerstone for their game plan more prominently than many other counterparts, meaning that a strength will always be a potential weakness if they are confronted with referees who don't give them the benefit of the doubt with 50/50 calls.

"It's true that you'll always get 50/50 calls everywhere," said Davids.

"But it's very competitive and I feel for the referees and players in terms of calls that need to made as well as the reward that's expected by players in certain situations. 

"We had discussions on this and a brief one with the refs too. We should have a better understanding of it going forward."

Saturday's Test kicks off at 09:05 (SA time).




South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse

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