Springboks Jacques Nienaber

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber. Photo by Dave Winter/INPHO/Shutterstock

Springboks coach laughs off any talk of World Cup ‘match-fixing’

The Springboks have not entertained any suggestion of match ‘manipulation’ amidst multiple quarter-final permutations.

Springboks Jacques Nienaber

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber. Photo by Dave Winter/INPHO/Shutterstock

Despite claiming a bonus-point win over Tonga on Sunday, the Springboks still face an anxious wait as they head into what is effectively a ‘bye week’, while knowing there is a somewhat slim chance they could be knocked out of the World Cup by other teams.

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If all of Scotland, South Africa and Ireland finish level on log points, points difference will only be used to determine the group winner, with head-to-head determining positions two and three.

If the Scots were to finish top due to a superior points difference, Ireland would finish second ahead of South Africa because they beat the Boks 13-8 in pool play.

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The Springboks – who beat Tonga by 49-18 – currently lead Pool B with 15 points, although they’ve played one more match than Ireland (in second place with 14 points) and Scotland (in third place with 10 points), with those teams yet to face one another in their final pool match on Saturday, 7 October.

All three teams are still in the quarter-final race, with one set to drop out of the competition at the conclusion of the pool stages.

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With all these permutations at play, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber was asked whether he thought a scenario might play out where one of the teams sought to manipulate the result or points margin. However, he emphatically laughed this off.

 “I think between ourselves, Ireland and Scotland, everybody can still miss out on the quarter-finals, every single team, all three of those teams, but all three can also still make it so the Pool will only be decided on Saturday.

“Could I believe in a scenario that they will decide ‘do 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 is clean. We wear those t-shirts so hopefully not because that would be extremely disappointing.”

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So what does the qualification picture look like for Springboks?

The Boks’ 31-point margin of victory ­– allied to a bonus point for scoring four tries – means that for Scotland and Ireland to go through at the South Africa’s expense, the former needs to beat the latter by 21 points while Ireland score four tries in defeat.

In that scenario, all three teams would have 15 log points; Scotland would progress with the best points difference, while Ireland would oust the Boks by virtue of having won the head-to-head match.

As Scotland have lost their last seven matches against their celtic rivals it is preposterous to think that they might now achieve such a result after the Boks eventually took care of business by claiming the bonus point in the 49th minute as they racked up seven tries in total against Tonga.

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Boks happy they did what was in their power

With a week off before the team knows their fate in the competition, and another week before the quarter-final, coach Jacques Nienaber said it was not unchartered territory for the Boks.

“The key for us was to win first and then get the bonus point and we managed to get that early in the second half, then we chased points as much as we could,” said Nienaber.

“As things stand now, one of South Africa, Ireland and Scotland will miss out on the quarter-final, but all three can still make it. The pool will only be decided on Saturday.”

“It’s a positive for us in that it was similar to our 2019 campaign,” added Nienaber. “We also finished the pool stages early and had a 12 or 13 day break, so we’ve done it before as a team.

“We’ll give the players two or three days off to get away from rugby and have a mental break, and then work on the things we can do better to stay in the competition until the end.

“We’ll only know the outcome of the France and New Zealand pool on Friday and our pool on Saturday, and then we’ll know which teams will face one another.”

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