Three years on, Springboks start 'new day and game' with referee Angus Gardner

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Angus Gardner. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Angus Gardner. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
  • Three years later, the Springboks and referee Angus Gardner are reunited for the first time since the infamous Andre Esterhuizen-Owen Farrell incident.
  • The Boks' relationship with match officials is still very much in the spotlight as the sport's stakeholders await World Rugby's verdict on Erasmus' disciplinary hearing, rendering the attention on Gardner natural.
  • But team management insist that they have done nothing different with their preparation and will simply continue to engage constructively.

It's said that time heals all wounds, which is why - after three years - the Springboks aren't worried about Angus Gardner taking charge of their Test against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The last time the Springboks and the Australian referee encountered each other, a video surfaced of an audacious Rassie Erasmus bizarrely instructing centre Andre Esterhuizen to practice no-arm hits on a tackle bag at training following a Test against England.

While it was later dismissed as a crude piece of spoof, South Africa's director of rugby had made his point after Esterhuizen was the victim of a patently illegal tackle made on him by the Roses' co-captain Owen Farrell, an infringement that should've at the very least handed the Boks a potential match-winning penalty.

Instead, they lost 11-12 at Twickenham.

Gardner, to his credit, admitted in the aftermath that he got it wrong.

However, with the Boks' relationship with match officials still very much in the spotlight as the sport's stakeholders await World Rugby's verdict on Erasmus' disciplinary hearing, it's only natural that Gardner's appointment garner some attention.

But the South Africans have moved on.

"For us, it's a new game and a new day," national assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said on Friday.

"Our process doesn't change, even though the referees in charge of our matches change weekly. We haven't done anything different this week."

Instead, the Boks have utilised all available official channels to engage with the match officials before the match just as they've done for the past season.

"It's the same process we follow. Our head coach has kept in touch with the officials," said Stick.

"It's important to remember that we're the teams on the field. It's a 15 against 15 plus a CEOs, who are the referees. We'll always try to work with them and we'll always respect their roles. 

"There won't be anything different from our side. Our focus is to just control what we can control. The rest isn't in our hands. We just have to play our best game."

Kick-off is at 15:00.



15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Rufus McLean, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Nick Haining, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4, Sam Skinner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Scott McInally 1 Pierre Schoeman

Substitutes: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Jamie Bhattie, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 George Horne, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Blair Kinghorn


15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Frans Steyn

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