SIMON BORCHARDT looks at five talking points from the Rugby Championship matches in Salta and Perth.
Springboks break 10-year trophy drought
Yes, the Rugby Championship takes secondary status during a World Cup year, but the Springboks’ title is still worth celebrating. Not since 2009 have the Boks been crowned champions of the southern hemisphere and they’ve only won the Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship four times in 24 years. Claiming some major silverware will be a big confidence boost for Rassie Erasmus’ men, who will now truly believe they can lift the Webb Ellis Cup in Yokohama on 2 November.
Trevor Nyakane’s monster performance
Nyakane made just his fourth Test start in 40 appearances and produced the best display of his career. The 30-year-old totally dominated Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro at scrum time and made an insane 15 tackles during his 50-minute stint. His transition from loosehead prop to tighthead is certainly complete and he deserves to wear the Bok No 3 jersey in their World Cup opener against the All Blacks.
Live scenes coming from Salta. Sisanyakazela isiNyakanyaka! pic.twitter.com/ivOawoxNDP
— Kaunda Ntunja (@kaundantunja) August 11, 2019
Handré Pollard stakes claim as world’s best flyhalf
Pollard was deservedly named Man of the Match after scoring two tries and kicking three conversions and five penalties for a 31-point haul. Both of his tries came after he attacked the advantage line and backed himself to power through the defence. All World Cup-winning teams had a world-class No 10 and in Pollard, the Boks have the best flyhalf on the planet, on current form.
Scott Barrett’s red card
The Wallabies were leading 13-12 in the last minute of the first half in Perth, and on the attack 5m out from the All Blacks’ tryline, when French referee Jérôme Garcès stopped play to review an incident of foul play. TV replays showed All Blacks lock Scott Barrett had shoulder charged Wallabies flank Michael Hooper, making direct contact with the head and neck area. According to World Rugby’s high-tackle framework, it warranted a red card (see Ross Tucker’s explanation below) and that is what Garcès pulled out of his pocket.
Barrett red card is a clear Pathway 2 in sanction framework.
Process: Illegal? Yes.
Next, high tackle or shoulder charge? Clearly shoulder – see def (arm in sling). So:
1. Head/neck contact? Yes
2. Degree of danger? High
Entry = red
3. Clear & obvious mitigation? No
Final = red pic.twitter.com/4TTY75Ejha
— Ross Tucker (@Scienceofsport) August 10, 2019
Wallabies sound World Cup warning
While the Wallabies took full advantage of playing against 14 men for 40 minutes, they had been the better team while it was 15 vs 15 and may well have gone on to win the match anyway. After a disappointing loss to the Springboks at Ellis Park and an underwhelming win against Argentina in Brisbane, the Wallabies needed a shot in the arm and they got it on Saturday with a biggest-ever victory against their trans-Tasman rivals. The Wallabies tend to lift themselves for World Cup tournaments and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they did so again in Japan.