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Emerging Ireland accused of gamesmanship after 3-nil tour of SA

By Jan De Koning
Brian Deeny of Emerging Ireland during the Toyota Challenge match between Airlink Pumas and Emerging Ireland at Toyota Stadium on October 05, 2022 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Emerging Ireland team will celebrate an unbeaten three-match tour of South Africa. However, their hosts are fuming over the obvious and blatant gamesmanship employed during the Challenge Series they competed in.

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The Irish visitors edged the Cheetahs 21-14 in a scrappy and dull game in Bloemfontein this past Sunday.

However, they have not won any new supporters in the Republic.

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Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie said the most frustrating aspect of the loss was the manner in which the game was slowed down – an well-documented Irish tactic that also caused the exasperation of South African teams on the Highveld in the United Rugby Championship.

It is claimed the first half between the Cheetahs and the Irish lasted 56 minutes and close to two hours for the entire match.

The visitors were booed in Bloemfontein for their constant delaying tactics that saw all three of their games taking just about two hours to complete.

“We can’t continue playing games like this, allowing teams and players to slow the game down,” Fourie said.

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“Every time the referee blew his whistle, two medics were running onto the field looking for someone [to treat].

“They [World Rugby] implement [regulations for] water breaks [to supposedly speed up the game], but all things like this.

“It is just not making sense. The problem is that the referee can’t say you are not injured.

“If you look as though you are injured, he must allow the medical staff to look at you.

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“However, it was clear as daylight for anyone what they tried to achieve.”

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Fourie said he watched a game in the series earlier in the week – between the same Irish team and the Pumas – and it was a big bore.

“I can imagine how it must be for young children. They don’t come to the game to see stoppages and water breaks.

“We want to entertain,” the Cheetahs coach said, adding: “That is the business we are in.

“Obviously we [the Cheetahs] have to win and play better rugby.

“However, there are a lot of issues around the game that has to be revisited.”

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