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'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

By Rugby365
Assistant coach Mike Catt during an Ireland rugby training session at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Matt Browne/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland assistant coach Mike Catt says some of the spicy comments coming from Bok stars in recent months will not add any fuel to the fire ahead of next month’s two-Test series in South Africa.


The Boks and Ireland will do battle at Loftus Versfeld on July 6 before the second Test at Kings Park in Durban on July 13.

Ahead of the series, centre Damian de Allende – speaking to RugbyPass – accused the Irish media of disrespecting the Boks, while Eben Etzebeth believes that the Irish were a bit arrogant after their win during last year’s World Cup Pool stages.

Video Spacer

A bitterly disappointed Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White produces a few post-match pearlers

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A bitterly disappointed Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White produces a few post-match pearlers

Catt believes those comments won’t help anyone when it is time to go on the field.

“For us, it’s not a problem,” Catt told Irish media on Monday.

“People can say what they want, it means nothing to us, it’s something we don’t particularly worry about.

“Let them keep talking, it’s not a problem. It doesn’t fuel anything; it doesn’t make it any or worse.”

He added: “We know exactly what we need to do to go down there and be successful.

“The rivalry’s been good, that’s what you want at Test level, it’s why you play the game.

“We’ve been pretty successful over the past three times we’ve played them; they’re chomping at the bit.


“There’s been a lot said in the press and this and that, it’s getting rid of all the white noise.

“What’s important for us is to put in a hell of a performance and go and challenge to win a series down in South Africa.

“It’s healthy, you want that rivalry.

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.”

The Boks team which triumphed 41-13 against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday was scheduled to return to South Africa on Sunday night. Several delays led to the cancellation of their flight late on Sunday night which forced the team to stay in London for an extra night.




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Flankly 17 days ago

The comments were reported weirdly. De Allende did say it would be war, but he said it amidst comments like “Ireland play such good footy”, and “they are so good at the breakdown”.

He said that the Boks lost heavily to Ireland a few years back and that they felt the Irish press was dismissive of the Boks. I don’t recall that, but I suppose it is true, and that SA players would want to turn around that sentiment. The RWC loss to Ireland would naturally pour fuel on the fire. In short, it is a natural thing for passionate players like him to feel very strongly about the goal of registering a convincing series win against Ireland. There is really nothing to see here.

As an aside, the SA team shouldn’t be too self-righteous about this kind of a situation. Recall that in 2004, after SA won the Ireland series in SA, Jake White noted that no more than two Irish players were good enough for selection in his Bok side.

"Considering the facts, I think only two of their players would be included in the Bok team - O'Driscoll (centre) and maybe one of the locks. How could we have lost against the Irish?"

O’Driscoll disagreed and said that it was close, and Ireland were just tired. My Irish friends were pretty incensed by the comments, quite rightly. And I am sure it was part of the energy that drove them to some famous wins against the Boks.

The Etzebeth thing was a little different. I think he was just not hearing what was being said. It is not that unusual for someone to say “We will see you in the final”. Of course it is a statement of confidence, which every team should have, but it is also a compliment. I think there was a cultural fly-by, in which a “see you soon” comment was taken to mean “we will beat you again”. But it was a good story, and a convenient clickbaity headline.

I don’t think anyone is intentionally trying to rile up anything. But if you interview a Bok player and prod them about their passion wrt the Ireland tour, you are likely to hear some pretty heartfelt words. And so you should.

Henrik 18 days ago

My ❤️ has and will always be Bokke …. but if there is an opposite site I mind a little bit less losing against, it’s either Ireland (or Scotland)

Turlough 18 days ago

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.”

Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup.
I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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