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South Africa media reaction: Manie Libbok criticised amid calls for Pollard’s return

Rassie Erasmus congratulates Ireland and praises New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe

The Rugby365 website reported on what South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus tweeted after his side’s narrow 13-8 Rugby World Cup defeat to Ireland at the Stade de France in which the former Munster head coach congratulated Ireland and praised the referee, New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe.

Erasmus tweeted: “Congrats to the Irish and sorry [South Africa]! We will just work harder and make you proud! Also nice to be involved in a game so intense and physical without the referee getting too much involved! Well done Ben and your team. Thank you🇿🇦 for all the support was really lekka !!”

In a general sense there wasn’t too much gnashing of teeth and wailing in South Africa, largely on the basis that the world champions were architects of their downfall given the issue with the kicking tee.

Warren Fortune gave out the Player Ratings for South Africa elsewhere on the site and was very taken by the performance of Springbok fullback Damien Willemse whom he gave 9/10. However, he was less enamoured of outhalf Manie Libbok, who he rated 5/10.


He wrote: “He [Libbok] showed some nice touches on attack which included a looping pass to Cheslin Kolbe into space in the 50th minute which allowed the wing to run in for his team’s only try of the game. However, his goal-kicking will be under the microscope again. He missed a conversion and a penalty in the second half, which was costly in the end.

“His defence in the fly-half channel was also not the best. He missed a few tackles with the most notable one being the miss on Bundee Aki in the 28th minute. Ireland eventually built momentum from that which led to Mack Hansen’s try.”

Stephen Jones writing in the Sunday Times, South African version of the newspaper under the headline Ireland made statement with brutal win over Springboks, that “the world champions are downed. Ireland surpassed even their brilliant form and organisation and they certainly showed an almost unbelievable resolve in coming home on an absolutely sensational occasion last night here in the Stade de France.”

South Africa’s Mail and Guardian took AFP (Agence France-Presse) copy, written by an Irishman Pirate Irwin, who mentioned that “the lusciously-locked Faf de Klerk took a pot at goal early in the second-half from inside his own half but the ball came off the bar.”

In the South African newspaper Dean Boyle wrote an open letter in which he urged the Springboks to “Change the goal-kicker, Pollard in! “The Springboks lost to Ireland largely due to their poor goal-kicking. This has to change and now. It is time for Handre Pollard to return.”

Ross Roche, senior sports writer with The Citizen, quoted Springbok captain’s Siya Kolisi’s words as a fair reflection of the contest. “Although it was a disappointing loss in the end, Kolisi admitted he was proud of the effort of his charges, while he gave full credit to Ireland for their strong performance.

“We would have loved to win but it was a great and intense game. Congrats to them, they played really well. They were able to hold the pressure and got their try in the first half which was important,” said Kolisi.

“I am proud of the way we played. I think we left few opportunities out there, while they also did. But it was a great test for us as a group.”

Mike Greenaway writing in the Cape Argus wasn’t too downcast. “Crucially, the Boks have learned some harsh lessons about frailties in their goal-kicking department, their lack of quality depth at hooker after the loss of Malcolm Marx, and, chiefly, the Boks were far too charitable in their inability to cash in on their scoring opportunities.

“The Boks will lick their wounds learn their lessons and take heart from the fact that in 2019 they lost a pool game before recovering to take the title.”

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer