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'Bulls***': Ex-England international calls out Eben Etzebeth

By Liam Heagney
South Africa's Eben Etzebeth (second left, in white shirt) prepares to scrum against Ireland last September at the Rugby World Cup (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

The headline-grabbing accusation made by Eben Etzebeth about post-game Ireland arrogance last September has been dismissed as “bulls***” by an ex-England international.

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It was last week when the Springboks talisman was interviewed on The Rugby Pod while he was in London ahead of the Sharks’ EPCR Challenge Cup semi-final versus Clermont.

Show co-host Jim Hamilton referenced his previous interview with Etzebeth when the pair met on the Stade de France sideline following last September’s Rugby World Cup pool win by the Irish over South Africa.

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Speaking live on RugbyPass TV (click here to watch), Etzebeth cast doubt on Ireland’s World Cup title prospects despite their pool success against the defending champions in Paris.

He was last week reminded about what he had dismissively said about the Irish and he explained on The Rugby Pod why he felt that way about them at that time.

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“I remember what I said to you,” said Etzebeth to Hamilton last week about their RugbyPass TV interview. “When I said that after the game: the thing was obviously you shake the guy’s hands and probably 12 out of the 23 when I shook the hands told me, ‘See you guys in the final’.

“Because the way the logs worked out we were going to play France and they were going to play New Zealand and my immediate thought was, ‘Are these guys seriously not even thinking about the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-final playing against them?’

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“So that remark they made, ‘See you guys in the final’, I was just like these guys are making a big mistake to look past probably one of the most dominant teams, or probably the most dominant team in the last 20 to 30 years of Test rugby.

“I was just like, ‘Surely they can’t!’ I mean we would never say that because we knew we had the host nation and we knew we had to pitch up to beat France in their backyard.

“Yeah, it just felt like they were just so, so confident saying things like that, ‘See you in the final’ when you knew you had got the mighty All Blacks coming in a World Cup quarter-final.

“It’s good to be confident but you can never be arrogant in this game because that’s the thing about rugby, you can have the best season and you can have one slip-up, or one missed tackle, and a guy puts you on your arse. That is the beauty of this game – you are never on top forever.”

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Ireland went on to lose to New Zealand in the quarter-finals whereas South Africa went on to retain the World Cup courtesy of a series of one-point wins in the knockout stages over France, England, and New Zealand.

Etzebeth’s accusation of Irish arrogance raced around the rugby world in the days that followed his Rugby Pod appearance last week. He had appeared on the show with ex-Wales out-half Dan Biggar filling in for Andy Goode, the regular co-host with Hamilton.

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Having recovered from a recent illness, the ex-England player returned to the studio this week and when asked for his thoughts on what Etzebeth had alleged about Ireland, Goode got stuck into the South African lock. Here is how The Rugby Pod conversation unfolded:

Jim Hamilton: Andrew, you must have seen this? It’s been doing the rounds on social media. It’s been all over the news. It’s been on Off the Ball, it’s been on newspapers in New Zealand. Go on, Rob, where else?

Rob Graham: It’s had about seven million views. Ridiculous. Blown up.  

Andy Goode: Tell me about it. Was he surprised by what he thought he heard? I’m going to call him out. I call bulls***. You ain’t counting to 12 or 13 straight after a game, son!

Hamilton: So basically, Andrew, let me set the scene because a lot of Irish people are coming at me and hating me. I’m not bothered either way. I love the Irish. I love the South Africans. Basically, after the game when I was pitchside hugging all the Springboks, Eben, after losing against Ireland after he got picked up by James Lowe and Zombie was banging out, he came up to me and said, ‘We’ll get them back if they make it’. So that is the cold line where I basically had shivers. That is where that came from, so I asked him the question last week and then he wanted to talk about it and said that he found it weird that straight after the game – and I’ve got an idea on this as well and I didn’t say it in the podcast because I was listening. But on the podcast he was saying straight after the game specifically 12 of them came up to him and said like, ‘We’ll see you in the final’. He’s taken it as if like there is an arrogance around them whereas we know that probably isn’t the case. They are saying it like, ‘Bad luck, we respect you and we will probably see you in the final’ or ‘We hope to see you in the final again’.

Goode: That’s the word. I reckon if anyone said it they would have said, ‘Hopefully, see you in the final’. Meaning we know we are both going our separate paths now. And there is no way Eben can count to 12 shaking people’s hands. You’ve been in that situation where you are absolutely blitzed, no one knows what is going on. You have just lost a game. Your emotions are everywhere. You ain’t going, ‘One, two, three, four, five, Caelan Doris, that’s the sixth person to say it’. It’s not happening, is it? What I think they probably said is, ‘Hopefully see you in the final’ or whatever because the Irish are good people. There’s not a f****** chance that they have gone there and it’s been interpreted the way it has or the way it is in Eben’s head. What it does do, though, is it builds an amazing narrative for the summer series, doesn’t it, and I’m saying. ‘We should f***** fly out there!’

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Hamilton: Yeah, you’re right. But maybe that’s intentional.

Goode: I’ll put an Irish jersey on. You put Eben’s No4 Springboks jersey on and let’s have it out there in South Africa.

Hamilton: But you know the craic, Andrew, the Irish lads are not allowed to come and speak to us whereas the South African lads, if I said to Eben, ‘Can you give me a piggyback around the pitch’, he would be like, ‘Get on my shoulders. I’m carrying you around’. But it did, it blew up and it was quite funny watching Alan Quinlan and the great Ronan O’Gara interact with it because they were taken aback by it but where I see it, it got lost in translation. They are very different, the South Africans. Especially the Afrikaans boys. And everything I suppose is around that straight after the game they have this kind of diehard humility. So that’s where it got lost in translation. But you are absolutely right, it f***** builds the narrative for the summer tour. But I will just finish with this, do you not love that though?

Goode: I love it. Yeah, I do.

Hamilton: So people are like coming at me and they are negative about it. But this is what we need. Like Rob mentioned, millions of views. They are talking about it in New Zealand in the media there. This is good. This is good for the game. Great. It’s been lost in translation… (but) this is good. This is great.

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Comments

169 Comments
D
Dim 62 days ago

162 comments so far and counting. i didn't realize that rugby fans are on the way to join the football brothers. what is the point to share personal opinion only to get all this shi*? it seems IRB bosses are doing the great job by killing the spirit of the game both on and outside the pitch. too sad, indeed.
btw, was there anything on eben’s point of view from the boys in green, who he mentioned?

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Wesley 62 days ago

Andy Goode cant kick to 12

A
Andre 63 days ago

Andy everything becomes easier with experience therefor counting etc straight after a match becomes easier when you have 100+ caps vs 17 which is the experience you speak from.

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nOx 63 days ago

Why would Eben lie? The guy has achieved so much. He saw it as arrogance. Any normal person who plays against the ABs year in and year out would have the same thoughts. Why even talk about the final when you have the biggest game of your lives next week in a stage you have never gotten passed?

Rugby is simple in SA. Have fun but the most important thing is respect. I’m not buying any of this misinterpreted nonsense. Eben isn’t English, but no one during that interview was asking what did he say? He's speaking and therefore his understanding is perfectly fine.

It was an arrogant thing to say, esp for a team that has never been to a final, never mind a semi. You guys up north can interpret it in a different way if you wish, maybe that s why you don’t win the biggest tournaments.

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Duncan 63 days ago

Goode is a Prop that played Flyhalf….
Who gives a Sh@#t what he thinks anyway!

C
Craig 64 days ago

Guys Eben did not mean it in a ugly way as it’s just a feeling he had. We Safas rate the All Blacks and no Bok player wants to play NZ in a Knockout game

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Henrik 65 days ago

Honestly, I am a bit lost here …. Ireland - RSA was (at least in my opinion) perhaps (from a purely technical / rugby-skills-show point of view) the pinnacle of the RWC2023 - almost flawless playing (putting aside the kicking of RSA which was the difference between the two teams), rugby at it’s very best …. if I were a Bok and after the game some Irish lads came around saying “see you in 5 weeks same place”, I definitely wouldn’t have thought of it as being in any way “arrogant”, rather a sort of jolly “if we both continue to play like this, no one could stop us” - besides, few of us fans would have, at that time, been surprised to see the same teams playing on 23 september and 28 october 2023 ….. well, we all know Ireland chose to hit a slump to keep the QF curse alive …..

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Roelof 65 days ago

Well, I am sure that Eben said exactly what he meant to say, exactly how he meant to say it. Does he strike you as a man that doesn't know arrogance when he sees it. He should know it because he has shaken the arrogance out of many foes before.

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ABE 65 days ago

Pls get it into your thick arrogant heads that the final was played by two Southern Hemisphere teams. The best against the best and that Argentina was just unlucky otherwise non of the Northetn Hemisphere teams would have seen the light of day.

M
MattJH 65 days ago

Best way to deal with all of this is to play another game.

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