A jug of water can say a lot when it’s gulped down in less than three minutes by a rugby giant named Siya Kolisi, captain of the South African team. Barely sitting down to answer journalists’ questions on Sunday September 10, during the traditional post-match press conference, the Springbok third row was unable to quench his thirst.
Happy, he was, of course, after this victory against Scotland (18-3) which celebrated his side’s great entry into the Rugby World Cup but his chirp said a lot about the toughness of the fight that was coming to take place on the pitch of the Stade-Vélodrome in Marseille. Sitting next to him, Jacques Nienaber, the coach of the rainbow team, reigning world champions, placed words behind this hastily swallowed water: “This meeting was a trap for us. Scotland are a tough team, we have always known that, the game was very tough. »
The match was indecisive for the first forty minutes and only shifted in favor of the Southern Hemisphere nation in the second half. When Australian referee Angus Gardner whistled for the break, the two teams were in fact tied, 6-3, to the advantage of the Springboks who were suffering in the scrum, contrary to their habits. South African power was matched by Scottish valor. The supporters in kilts were not mistaken, tirelessly shouting a solid “Scotlaaaand” become a refrain.
Two teenagers, who had put on a show two hours earlier at the entrance to the velodrome, accompanied the encouragement of the thistle people on bagpipes. If the sun hadn’t shone so brightly, closing our eyes might have felt like we were at Murrayfield, the temple of Scottish rugby. The South African stands then seemed very silent. A few minutes before half-time, Scotland came close to the feat, a try being offered on their left wing but Darcy Graham, number 14, too greedy, forgot to p it on to his teammates who were outnumbered.
Would the match have changed at that moment, galvanizing the Scots into a position of outsiders in this pool B, called the pool of death, since it includes two monsters of world rugby: South Africa and Ireland? ? Who knows… Scotland are a step behind those stronger than them but their inventive breakthroughs and their desire to play always worry their opponents.
A more intense second period
Faced with this potential threat, South African coach Jacques Nienaber ordered his players gathered around him in the locker room “to increase intensity” in order to definitively widen the gap, he clarified during the press conference. There is no question, in fact, of letting slip an essential victory to take the lead in group B and then, on October 14, afford a quarter-final against the second in group A and not against the first, a small advantage even if we are probably talking here about New Zealand. But who has forgotten the correction inflicted by the Springboks on the All Blacks on August 26, during a World Cup preparation match, with the clear score of 35 to 7? Never seen.
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