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The post-game Ireland arrogance that left Eben Etzebeth in shock

By Liam Heagney
South Africa's Eben Etzebeth in action against Ireland last Septemebr (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Eben Etzebeth has lit the fuse for the upcoming Springboks versus Ireland Test series by accusing Andy Farrell’s squad of arrogance following last September’s most recent clash between the two countries.

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South Africa were beaten 8-13 by the Irish in Paris but the defending champions from 2019 went on to retain their crown by defeating the All Blacks in the 2023 final five weeks after their Pool B loss.

The Springboks are now set to host Ireland in matches in Pretoria and Durban and with less than 10 weeks to go before the July 6 opener at Loftus Versfeld, Etzebeth has upped the ante by describing the Irish as arrogant in their post-match reaction at Stade de France seven months.

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Etzebeth was interviewed post-game in Paris by RugbyPass TV (click here to watch) and he predicted the Springboks would settle the score with Ireland in the final… if the Irish made it through.

The 32-year-old has now explained what he was alluding to when making that comment, revealing that about half of the Irish matchday 23 that he shook hands with post-game in Paris said ‘See you in the final’ even though they knew they had to play the All Blacks in the quarter-final.

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The Springboks lock felt this attitude towards New Zealand to be very dismissive, a story he has now explained during an appearance on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod. “I remember what I said to you,” said Etzebeth to Jim Hamilton, the Rugby Pod host who had interviewed him post-game at Stade de France for RugbyPass TV.

“When I said that after the game: the thing was obviously you shake the guy’s hands and probably 12 out of the 23 when I shook the hands told me, ‘See you guys in the final’.

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“Because the way the logs worked out we were going to play France and they were going to play New Zealand and my immediate thought was, ‘Are these guys seriously not even thinking about the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-final playing against them?’

“So that remark they made, ‘See you guys in the final’, I was just like these guys are making a big mistake to look past probably one of the most dominant teams, or probably the most dominant team in the last 20 to 30 years of Test rugby.

“I was just like, ‘Surely they can’t!’ I mean we would never say that because we knew we had the host nation and we knew we had to pitch up to beat France in their backyard. Yeah, it just felt like they were just so, so confident saying things like that, ‘See you in the final’ when you knew you had got the mighty All Blacks coming in a World Cup quarter-final.

“It’s good to be confident but you can never be arrogant in this game because that’s the thing about rugby, you can have the best season and you can have one slip-up, or one missed tackle, and a guy puts you on your arse. That is the beauty of this game – you are never on top forever.”

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Whereas Ireland lost 24-28 to the All Blacks in their quarter-final, South Africa pipped France 29-28 the following night in Paris and they went on to retain the trophy with further knockout stage one-point wins over England and then New Zealand.

The Springboks will now open their 2024 schedule with a Qatar Airways Cup clash versus Wales in London, but Etzebeth suggested it’s the series against Ireland that has captured the imagination of all rugby fans.

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“We want consistency between World Cups,” he said when asked what is next for South Africa. “We all know 2027 is the next big one but you do want to be competitive.

“We want to win one or two Rugby Championships within this phase. We have got Ireland coming up. Wales first at Twickenham but those Ireland Test matches, everyone except the Ireland and Springboks players are talking that one up. Everyone is talking about that game.”

  • Click the arrow below to listen to Eben Etzebeth on this week’s Rugby Pod
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Comments

178 Comments
B
Bull Shark 72 days ago

This is all being blown totally out of proportion.

First of all, since half the Irish team isn’t Irish - it’s very likely that none of the Irish players said that at all and, thus, we’re not being arrogant.

Second, since half the Irish team is Kiwi - it’s very likely the Kiwi players were predicting a NZ SA World Cup final.

Which they got spot on. Good on them!

C
Chris 74 days ago

“Shock”, the guy was casually saying he was just slightly surprised. Nowadays if you say anything it gets taken completely out of context. Calm down everyone.

E
Ed the Duck 74 days ago

Gotta love it when kids throw their toys out the pram and can’t hack it with the grown ups debate.

Here’s looking at you turlough! 😉🤣

E
Ed the Duck 74 days ago

For all those disputing the veracity of Etzebeth’s very public recollections of the Irish players’ comments, I have one question: should we be holding our collective breath in anticipation of a barrage of strenuous denials from the Irish squad?

Then again, perhaps not…

T
Turlough 74 days ago

The latest ‘Ireland are arrogant’ attack from one of the two most arrogant rugby nations on earth.

j
joe 75 days ago

SA players and fans calling the irish arrogant, ooh the irony!!

M
MattJH 75 days ago

French players said the same thing to the All Blacks after their pool match in 2011.
But the French can back up their s**t talk with action.

E
Ed the Duck 75 days ago

Every Irish fan in the stadium celebrated like they had won the tournament after the SA and Scotland games so yeah, the way Etzebeth tells it stacks up.

It was definitely ‘In Their Heads’!

R
Red and White Dynamight 75 days ago

Etsebeth is right about 1 thing. Boks after winning a RWC have been crap. Only in 2009 did they reach the heights of what a RWC Champion should look like but that was only after 3rd/last in the TriN 2008. Lost a home series in 1996 (vs ABs); didnt win even 1 x Rugby Championship after 2019. ABs and Wallabies and England at least played like Champions after winning RWC.

f
finn 75 days ago

Eben really seems like just a deeply unpleasant man.

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Michael 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

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