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The ‘match-fixing’ question put to Springboks boss Jacques Nienaber

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Gaspafotos/MB Media/Getty Images)

Springboks boss Jacques Nienaber was left bemused by a post-match question on Sunday night in Marseille about the potential for Ireland and Scotland to somehow come to an agreement and play out a result next Saturday in Paris that would see the two Celtic nations qualify for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals at the expense of the 2019 champions.

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South Africa currently top Pool B following their win over Tonga at Stade Velodrome. They have 15 points, with unbeaten Ireland in second on 14 points and Scotland in third on 10 points.

A bonus point win for the Scots next weekend that also sees the Irish collect a losing bonus point would see all three teams finish on 15 points, resulting in the pool standings being decided on points difference.

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Currently, the Springboks are on +117, Ireland on +122 and Scotland +97 – and Springboks boss Nienaber was horrified by the idea that a result to eliminate South Africa purposely could be concocted.

If Scotland finish top on points difference with all teams on 15 points, second place would then be decided on the head-to-head Ireland versus South Africa pool result, a match that the Irish won and this would eliminate South Africa.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
5
Draws
0
Wins
0
Average Points scored
26
13
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
60%

Finishing up his post-game media briefing after the Springboks’ 49-18 win over Tonga, Nienaber was asked by a French journalist about the mathematics surrounding next weekend’s pool finale at Stade de France.

“If I understand you correct, so you say they can maybe chat between each other and decide…” he said initially, confused after listening to a translation of the question. The query was put to him a second time and this was his response:

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“Could I believe in a scenario that they will decide, ‘Okay, we want to get this amount of points and then get South Africa out of the way?’

“That would probably be match-fixing I would say. I hope not. Rugby’s clean. We wear those T-shirts. Hopefully not because that would be extremely disappointing, don’t you think?”

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Nickers 5 hours ago
All Blacks sabbaticals ‘damage Super Rugby Pacific when it is fighting for survival’

Sabbaticals have helped keep NZ’s very best talent in the country on long term deals - this fact has been left out of this article. Much like the articles calling to allow overseas players to be selected, yet can only name one player currently not signed to NZR who would be selected for the ABs. And in the entire history of NZ players leaving to play overseas, literally only 4 or 5 have left in their prime as current ABs. (Piatau, Evans, Hayman, Mo’unga,?) Yes Carter got an injury while playing in France 16 years ago, but he also got a tournament ending injury at the 2011 World Cup while taking mid-week practice kicks at goal. Maybe Jordie gets a season-ending injury while playing in Ireland, maybe he gets one next week against the Brumbies. NZR have many shortcomings, but keeping the very best players in the country and/or available for ABs selection is not one of them. Likewise for workload management - players missing 2 games out of 14 is hardly a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Again let’s use some facts - did it stop the Crusaders winning SR so many times consecutively when during any given week they would be missing 2 of their best players? The whole idea of the sabbatical is to reward your best players who are willing to sign very long term deals with some time to do whatever they want. They are not handed out willy-nilly, and at nowhere near the levels that would somehow devalue Super Rugby. In this particular example JB is locked in with NZR for what will probably (hopefully) be the best years of his career, hard to imagine him not sticking around for a couple more after for a Lions tour and one more world cup. He has the potential to become the most capped AB of all time. A much better outcome than him leaving NZ for a minimum of 3 years at the age of 27, unlikely to ever play for the ABs again, which would be the likely alternative.

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