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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Springboks end satisfying year with victory over France in Paris

The Springboks finished their year on a high by beating Les Blues in France for the first time since 1997, and finished with an impressive 10 wins from 12 matches. The 19-10 victory in Paris completed their statistically best campaign in 16 years.

JP Pietersen silenced the Stade de France with a try in the opening minutes following a Morgan Parra attempted clearance. Morne Steyn converted from the sideline as the Springboks started well.

France came back with a try just before halftime but in the end the visitors were the stronger side and they capped off a good year with the win, and a record second only to the All Blacks.

"The great thing about this team is that we just go out and play. It doesn't matter if we're at home or away. We adapt," said coach Heyneke Meyer. "What makes this team special is that guys really step up if they need to. You win these games by being mentally very tough and struggling through."

Their win vs Wales was only the second time since 1994 that the Welsh didn't score a try against them, and a week later they kept Scotland pointless for the first time since 1951.

Including last year's wins over Ireland, Scotland and England, they've won 13 of their last 15 matches. They are also the only team to have gone unbeaten for the last two End of Year tours.

France, the 2011 Rugby World Cup finalists, have had a poor year, finishing last in the Six Nations, losing four times to New Zealand and only beating Scotland and Tonga.

"I must congratulate my players for the commitment they showed out there, but you can't start against one of the best teams in the world by giving them seven points," said Philippe Saint-Andre.

While it was a hard-fought match and wasn't a perfect performance from the Springboks, they were pleased with the end result. "We have massive respect for France, we knew it was going to be ugly but we just had to win," said Bok captain Jean De Villiers, who will skipper the Barbarians vs Fiji.

Posted by Rugbydump at 8:16 pm | View Comments (47)

Viewing 47 comments

barnes is a pillock November 26, 2013 9:49 pm

What the hell is the IRB thinking allowing the refs to be so heavy handed with carding players. This year has been a joke in terms of international games being blighted by overzealous refereeing, which does nothing but ruin the spectacle of the game of Union. People don't watch rugby to see their team handicapped by having players sent off after something as petty as a hand to the face! I'm genuinely concerned about the future of professional rugby if this year is anything to go by. ?

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matt November 26, 2013 10:43 pm

I'm concerned about the future of rugby as well, but only because I can't believe players could be so stupid. They know there are cameras everywhere, and they know that the referees can use them during the match now. So why are you putting your hand into another player's face!? These are supposed to be professional grown ups, not petulant 9 year olds. The rules are there, they have always been there, and they are quite clear. If your team gets caught doing something stupid then don't blame the referee for seeing it, blame the idiot who decided to flaunt the rules in plain sight.

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DanKnapp November 26, 2013 10:12 pm

I've gone to Youtube to try and find another clip, but can't find one, but here goes.

From this one angle alone it looks a little like Habana flipped himself backwards after Domingo picks him up. I'd be interested to see that again from another angle. Can't believe that Habana would have done that, but the movement doesn't look right. I want to be clear though, I have only seen the one angle and am more curious than anything else.


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DanKnapp November 26, 2013 10:14 pm

Yes, watch it again. Doesn't Habana's head arch back towards the floor?! Doesn't seem like the right sort of movement. Please, can anyone direct me to a better link to clear it up?

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Badge November 26, 2013 10:28 pm

I've been looking around and can't seem to find anything that would clarify exactly what happened here. I understand a little acting for a penalty but not at the risk of breaking your neck.

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Reality November 26, 2013 10:37 pm

I thought this was some sort of conspiracy theory when I read your comment, but after re-watching it I think you're dead right. It was a completely unnatural movement; if you're picked up the way he was you'll naturally try and retain your balance and avoid injury by leaning forward, but he went shooting backwards and towards the ground as if his spine had just suddenly disappeared. It reminds me of the kick-run into player-ask for penalty trick that he's been guilty of in the past.

Actually, it also reminds me of when Damien Traille pulled Habana's leg into him and then claimed he had been kicked, except Habana's role has been reversed here.

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Badge November 26, 2013 10:52 pm

My only question is why try to do something that dangerous? Running into a player, pulling a leg, and flopping a little will be prevalent, but maybe not so apparent, in every game. If you don't play the ref, you probably won't play very well. However, those are a little more understandable than torquing yourself backwards to land on your head and neck. Don't take a marginal, but ultimately safe tackle, and turn it into something that might end your career. Instead, pull a leg and claim a kick!

That aside, I'm not trying to take anything away from the Boks this season, they are my team and I'm extremely proud of them. I can't wait to see how their involvement in the Barbarians alongside some other talented players turns out. Go Boks.

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DanKnapp November 27, 2013 1:49 pm

I agree with you entirely, why would he do it? I'm not suggesting that he did, because I don't think it fits with his record. It is purely that the action seems so unusual. I'd be very reluctant to call him a cheat without seeing another angle. I was just intrigued by the one shot of this that we have available, it just looks odd.

I get the reference to the 'kick', that was a shocking attempt to cheat in a previous game.

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DrG November 27, 2013 4:43 pm

I'm with you on this one Dan, if one was to say Habana was "play acting" it is somewhat out character for him, but it's hard to put a finger on what happened if it cannot be labelled "play acting"...

I remember in the school days of being dump tackled, I'd tend to try and grab the tacklers body and do all I could to remain upright (without consciously trying)....(also used to try and land a good knee in the goolies as we hit the ground as repayment for his shoulder in my ribs!

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matt November 26, 2013 10:46 pm

I hate to agree with anything bad said about Habana, other than he was a fool to leave the Bulls. But I think you might be right here.

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poccio November 26, 2013 11:28 pm

I see what your saying, but I can't judge on this clip alone (it does seem unnatural but if you look at it in real time he goes down so fast that it seems unlikely that he did it on purpouse). That said, apart from this incident I've had a feeling for some time now that a lot of people try to milk these sort of penalties when they get the chance (for instance I remeber a cheetas game from a year or two back) but I think the only way to try to contrast this is just one, when you lift in the tackle you have to power through with your legs pumping, or tackle really low or on the chest. That's the only way to avoid this from happening, 'cause refs will always give the tackled player the penalty.

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TotesMcGoates November 26, 2013 11:55 pm

Maybe I'm being naive but I can't see Habana indulging in this kind of play acting. Is it possible that he was just off balance and that contributed to the unnatural looking movement?

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paimoe November 27, 2013 4:04 am

I've always seen Habana as someone who can score a boatload of tries, but any slightly big hit, or body check, and he'll milk it as much as he can

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DanKnapp November 27, 2013 1:50 pm

But this would be a whole other level - this would be attempting to make a tackle look very dangerous and worthy of a red card. It would be the equivalent of taking a dive in football. For that reason alone I'd like to see another angle of it.

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DanKnapp November 27, 2013 1:56 pm

But yes, of course TotesMcGoates' response is the most likely reason for him ending up in that position. I'm not suggesting that he IS diving, just that from one angle alone it LOOKS like he is. There is probably a reasonable explanation.

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New and Improved November 27, 2013 8:43 am

I think you've got this completely wrong. You can see that Habana is trying to hold on to Domingo as the tackle, which was late anyways, is made but he loses grip as Domingo comes up straight. And from there Habana twists slightly to his right, maybe trying to stick a hand out to try and break his fall but it's too late. Very natural.... If you tell me that Habana made the movement to cheat then you will also have to tell me that whenever a ref or TMO gets an obvious decision wrong that they are also cheating.

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matt the mauler November 27, 2013 1:06 pm

Agreed. It does like he deliberately repositions to land more vertically.

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DanKnapp November 27, 2013 1:54 pm

I'd be very happy to accept that if I could see it from another angle. I believe that is the most likely explanation.

If he was diving, then I guess he'd have made more of a meal of it and perhaps appealed to the referee more directly. The fact that he didn't suggests he didn't dive. I really don't want to believe he did, and I'm probably just seeing things.

Class from both players afterwards, I liked the way they dealt with it. I think Domingo was as surprised as Habana that he ended upside down so quickly. They both dealt with it well.

I suppose it just highlights that sometimes players end up hitting the ground at a bad angle because of their own movements once the tackle is being made - either to get the ball back into play or whatever. The tackler must take responsibility.

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BrisbaneBok November 27, 2013 3:52 am

Tin foil hat stuff. The only arching is caused by his shoulder digging into the ground as his body is pushed backwards.

Not much Habana can do in this tackle since he has nothing to hold onto, and, in real time, at that speed, the centripetal force it is going to always fling him violently backwards.

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DrG November 30, 2013 3:00 pm

Get a physics lesson buddy....

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WelshOsprey November 26, 2013 10:30 pm

Friendly reminder that warburton got a red for exactly the same thing.

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matt November 26, 2013 10:44 pm

That was precisely my thought at the time as well.

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kadova November 28, 2013 1:38 am

Get over it, babies, the fall of the french player was far more vertical.
And The ref was Alain Rolland, who sees red easily.
And would you see the Welsh team get so close to the All Blacks in the finale, lol !

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Colombes November 26, 2013 11:06 pm

Friendly reminder that welsh fans love to relaunch stupid polemics...

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DrG November 27, 2013 4:47 pm

Because the French fans love to forget everything about regarding decisions made against their teams....

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rodofle November 26, 2013 11:07 pm

You must be kidding... You simply can't compare. Habana here is clearly over-reacting, flipping himself backwards in order to make the tackle look like a dangerous one. Clerc vs Warburton didn't do that : maybe he overreacted AFTER the tackle in order to make the ref believe he had been injured, but that was Warburton who made him fall on his neck. That's absolutely not the same thing.

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DanKnapp November 27, 2013 2:00 pm

Agreed, the Warburton tackle was a more serious offence than this one. I don't think Warburton's tackle was malicious, but it was more dangerous.

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matt November 26, 2013 10:48 pm

As a point of interest, can anyone tell me if Uget (?) has to get back behind the back foot of the ruck to be onside at 2:12, or do the advancing French players 'bring him onside' in the same way as with kick chases?

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Badge November 26, 2013 11:00 pm

I believe he is put onside by the advancing French players. Its in much the same way that "injured" players upfield have been put onside by advancing players and then hop up miraculously and rejoin the line.

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poccio November 26, 2013 11:21 pm

they bring him tis instance it's fine because he's getting up and the ball is already out of the ruck and it all happens basically together, obviously you can't get up offside and just wait till play comes to you (it's also counterproductive as you'd basically be leaving your team one man short)

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Colombes November 26, 2013 11:00 pm

I was at Stade de France, and honestly, it was quite a dull game, between 2 sloppy teams, penalised by a very mediocre ref.
Only good point, a fantastic ambiance where boks and les bleus fans were more interested to do ola's than watch the game ;)

More seriously, France was the sloppiest side by literally offering all the points to SA, try and penalties. That's quite a summary of their year, they aren't quick and precise enough on their multiple occasions

On Boks, i can't really judge as i didn't really watch them in 2013. Same usual strong and direct team. I can't say that i've been impressed by their game, but their discipline and killing instinct players like pietersen and habana make the difference.

A word on Barnes, i understand IRB gave new recommendations, but his match was a catastrophe. the 2 yellow were very severe.... the first bok try didn't even need a video check, it was try....his scrum judgements in scrum were sooo slow and unclear....serial whistler always forgetting any advantage... Let's give him a tape of Ireland-NZ if he can be inspired by Nigel Owens way to ref.

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Mattia Vasarirugby November 27, 2013 9:02 am

Someone can explain me the Wayne's choices? I've seen the full match and the highlights but I can't understand what he has seen on the 2 bok tries... A forward pass on the first try? And on the second one?

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Badge November 28, 2013 12:10 am

The first one I thought they denied because they claimed the ball went forwards after it was dropped, which I don't believe it did. The second one the TMO claimed that the French player grounded the ball before Louw did. I think that Louw scored the try on the basis of the French player putting a couple fingers on the ball, not grounding it, I was looking for some downward pressure. However, that's all coming from a South African :)

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kadova November 28, 2013 1:41 am

About the second try, the ref decided the ball was touched, not grounded, by the French player first.
The video ref was taking ages to make a decision.

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beast4president November 27, 2013 9:20 am

Go Bokke! Fouries try should've been allowed! Ridiculous. Louw shouldn't have been sent off-in rugby you get emotional- especially if someone harms a team mate or captain and its not like he punched or kicked anyone. Allowances should be made for emotion. The pitch was awful- potentially causing injury to players and disrupted flowing rugby. Under the circumstances this Bok team is brilliant to have come away with a win.

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nzbougnat November 27, 2013 12:26 pm

As a French fan, I'd agree with you. Some weird decisions (both ways) indeed. France simply got outplayed and gave away too many penalties. Pitch-wise, I'm afraid this affected both teams. So no home advantage there!

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FelipeG November 27, 2013 10:40 am

Watched the game on TV. They replayed Domingo's tackle several times. Conclusion: I just don't know what happened! But it's pretty clear that Domingo was the first one surprised with the result of his tackle. And Habana didn't seem to take offense. On the contrary, Domingo helps Habana get on his feet and then they shake hand. This was a nice image!

First denied try was a weird decision. The second is OK. Huget's hand, the ball and the ground are in contact before the SA player touches it. I was not always a big fan of Huget but whithout him the difference would be 14 points higher.

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FoXtroT November 27, 2013 2:27 pm

Louws try I feel should have been allowed. The French player only made contact with the ball and did not put any downward pressure on it (which is required for a successful grounding) while Louw did.

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matt the mauler November 27, 2013 1:10 pm

Wayne Barnes is a terrible ref. You can guarantee he will card somebody in a game he officiates. I struggle to remember a game that he has reffed which I have enjoyed. As somebody else has said, he needs to take a leaf out of Nigel Owens book of refereeing.

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matt the mauler November 27, 2013 1:11 pm

Also, whoever the French lad milking the getting pushed in the face while on the ground needs to grow a pair. Can you imagine what the French forwards of the 70s and 80s would have made of that.

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DrG November 27, 2013 6:47 pm

It's a catch 22 matt... (or a conundrum might be the better way to put it when we're talking about rugby)...

Whilst I'm sure it did hurt (to some small extent), in the days gone by, what the SA player did may have caused a punch up, there might have been a couple cards at the end of it, or maybe just a penalty. Nowadays, what can you do to get back at someone who does that to you? You get up and hit him and you get sent off... you milk it like a wet blanket and you get rewarded...

The other week we saw JPP rub Denton's face into the dirt, it went unnoticed by the officials, but what message does that send? "Yeh rub someones face into the dirt, they aren't allowed to hit you anymore because they'll get carded, and you'll get away with it cos it's a bitch move that no one really can justify punishing..."

That being said the French bloke appeared to start it all by slapping the back of a Saffas head...

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katman November 27, 2013 9:11 pm

He shouldn't have slapped de Villiers though, should he? Or was that part okay?

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katman November 27, 2013 9:12 pm

Ignore my comment - I didn't read your last sentence.

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katman November 27, 2013 9:10 pm

The scoreline would have been far less flattering to the French had they not employed a blind man as TMO. Two legit Bok tries (one of them with a sure conversion) denied by this impaired fool. The "knock" in the first one (3:35) was nowhere near forward and the French back (4:10) certainly does not ground the ball in any shape or form. Neither of these even due to obscured footage or poor angles. Just inexplicable really. So you can add a dozen to the points difference.

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James November 28, 2013 9:54 am

Here is an explanation regarding Louw's try that was disallowed. this should clear it up for anyone who is not sure or thinks it wasn't a try.

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FelipeG November 28, 2013 11:12 am

Thx! that makes the law pretty clear indeed. Still unclear for me what downward pressure exactly requires. Huget's hand is going down. But its not over the ball. Should the ground be water, I believe Huget would have make the ball go down, even if by an inch or 2 only.
Still, the boks were stronger, no point denying that.

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Jimothy November 28, 2013 9:21 pm

Does Habana look in the direction of the touch judge or ref immediately after that tackle? Plus these guys are machines and have abs of steel. With the position he was in during that tackle I believe he could have easily held himself up and held on!

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