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New theory emerges over Springboks' mindset heading into Ireland clash

By Josh Raisey
Ireland assistant coach Mike Catt, left, and South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, centre, and South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber before the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France in Paris, France. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

As soon as Antoine Dupont’s participation in the World Cup quarter-finals was thrown into doubt after fracturing his cheekbone, suggestions that playing a Dupont-less France would be more desirable than playing the All Blacks in the last eight were inevitable.


France are on course to top Pool A after beating the All Blacks in the opening match of the tournament, but the scrum-half’s injury two days before Ireland and South Africa faced each other left fans from both nations to discuss the merits of winning or coming second in Pool B and therefore facing France or the All Blacks.

Even after Ireland and South Africa went hammer and tongs for 80 minutes at the Stade de France on Saturday, some have questioned the Springboks’ mentality in their 13-8 loss to the world number ones. Owner of the Hollywoodbets Sharks Marco Masotti has even suggested that the world champions approached this meeting in Paris as if it were a “practice game”.

Masotti listed the 7-1 split on the bench as an example of Jacques Nienaber’s and Rassie Erasmus’ “out of the box thinking”, which is valid. He also cited the traffic light system deployed by Erasmus as another reason for their experimental mindset, which is perhaps slightly harder to grasp.

Match Summary

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The volume of fans that agree with his comments online clearly shows that he is not alone in this view. Fans have added with theories of their own as well as to how South Africa might have been holding something back, such as their kicking decisions throughout the match- chiefly the decision for Faf de Klerk to take a 50 metre+ penalty rather than to kick for the corner.

Masotti wrote on X: “I am not even sure what to make of the game. It felt like a practice game to me. I know I would rather have a coaching team with lights, 7/1 splits and out of the box thinking. The Springboks are taking the game forward in world rugby.”

Few would argue that the Springboks held anything back in terms of their physical intensity against Ireland, or at least if there are those that hold that view, may God have mercy on the souls of the side that bear the brunt of the Boks at full intensity. It was clear to see that both sides gave everything in what was the most brutal match of the World Cup so far. So while there are no question marks over the Boks’ physical approach to the match, there are questions over their decision-making both before and during the match and whether the same decisions would be made once the knockout stages arrive.


Even if the theory that playing France without their talisman in the quarter-finals might be easier than the All Blacks holds water, it might be moot anyway following the news that Les Bleus’ captain could make a shock return for that match. On top of that, it is hard to believe that the Springboks would contrive a way to avoid the All Blacks in the quarter-finals after subjecting them to a record defeat in both sides’ final match before the World Cup. Then again, Erasmus has developed a reputation for being an innovator and pushing the envelope during his time with South Africa, so theories like this are to be expected.



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Gerald 288 days ago

The idea that the Boks somehow contrived to ‘throw’ this game is utter nonsense. Fake news.

Daniel 288 days ago

I'm a South African, and any theory that we somehow cunningly lost the game on purpose to play against a weakened French team is absolute nonsense and exremely disrespectful to Ireland.

Sam 289 days ago

Sean history will repeat itself it happened with England 4 years ago when they did us the honors to beat the all blacks and we played a broken England team in the final so will this go down the same way. Ireland will do us the honors to beat the all blacks and we will be playing a broken Ireland team in the final. We are going to destroy them in the final and be world champs.

Dave 289 days ago

Meant to say agree not degree

Dave 289 days ago

Spot on silk 100% degree

aedan 289 days ago

South African fans will do absolutely ANYTHING other than accept the fact that they were second best. Blaming kickers, refs, god, a conspiracy against them, and of course, they wanted to lose 🙄 in realty Saffa’s are just salty, crying, losers

David 289 days ago

think south africa would rather play the allblacks again rather than france

lot 289 days ago

yeah Right. what a stupid piece to waste time on. Which RWC Champion would rather lose face to win another cup? 2019 with one loss is not the same as an undefeated champion. jog on stupid

CO 289 days ago

Boks were poor in the backs and still should've been awarded a penalty try for Irelands flagrant maul collapse in the last minute. Ireland played to the peak of their potential and still were extraordinarioy luck to finish with the win.

What is does show is that the referees are going to be very reluctant to make a big decision in the last minutes if a test.

Boks can improve more than the Irish but it's going to be difficult to reset their misfiring backline this close to knockout rugby, they'll use Pollard against Tonga but if he looks rusty then they're in big trouble for their quarter.

The facts are currently that the English have the least squad disruption and the Allblacks have two games to play with everyone available except a prop who will be fired up for the quarter.

It's too wide open to make a call but it could potentially be a Wales versus England final.

One thing is certain ...quarter final upsets

Raymond 289 days ago

South Africa would not of won even if they had a kicker? Ireland would have compensated? Come on!! How would Irleand have compensated towards the end of the game if SA had an extra 11 points for kicking???? All of a sudden grabbing two tries out of their pocket? It took them the whole game to only score one try.

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