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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.


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.


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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:


“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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Div 286 days ago

Jacques was most certainly not “horrified”, his answer was sarcastic (“I hope not” & “Wouldn’t you agree”), given the ridiculousness of the question.

Daniel 286 days ago

I think it's disrespectful to Ireland and Scotland to suggest that they would effectively cheat to eliminate South Africa. They're almost certainly more worried about themselves at this stage than South Africa.

Phillip 286 days ago

This was quite a ridiculous question to ask the coach. If two teams decide the outcome of a game before kickoff, then it is fixed, I can't see Ireland willingly give up their winning streak because they are on their way to set a new world record with their current winning streak.

robert 287 days ago

Imagine having a job that only paid out when articles written needed a certain numbers of hits!!! Yes boys and girls, welcome to the world of online journalism, and these dickheads will write and conjure absolutely anything to make a buck and turn us all into frenzied pundits abusing each other’s intelligence. Fuck em.

Gerald 287 days ago

Would absolutely love the situation where all the real rugger guys are sitting in a pub chatting rugby, and Nigel walks in and realizes that all the people he has trash talked about for the last few weeks are sitting there. Can just imagine his bravery then. 😂

Tee 287 days ago

Rugbys clean, hahahaha wow

David 287 days ago

It is not possible in any circumstance for SA not to go through. Do the maths whichever way you wish

Wa 287 days ago


sean 287 days ago

This is the most ridiculous question ever asked, next the conspiracy theorists are gonna conclude Nic Berry should get this match to ensure payback for that awful video from Rassie, who’s the match official ? Oh wait it’s Nic Berry 😂😂 I can see the articles

Turlough 287 days ago

After sweating blood to avoid France Ireland would throw that all away in a conspiracy involving all 66 Scots/Irish players and coaching staff......
What publication does this moron write for?

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William 5 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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