Andy Edwards, the Springboks’ head of athletic performance. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has
admitted he ordered a backroom staff member to hound the assistant referee
during last Saturday’s thrilling Rugby Championship win over the All Blacks in Gold
Tensions were high throughout in the seesaw
encounter, never more so than when the Springboks’ ‘water boy’ could be seen
following the assistant referee up the sideline sharing his advice over a South African
kick into touch.
English referee Matthew Carley saw what transpired and stepped in, warning Andy Edwards, South Africa’s head of athletic
performance, that he would be sent to the stands.
“If I see you chasing our touch judge up
the line again, you’ll be off,” Carley warned Edwards.
Nienaber told reporters afterwards that the
orders were coming from his coaching booth as they sought clarity over the new 50/22 rule.
Rugby’s 50:22 rule allows a team to gain a throw-in inside the
opposition’s 22-metre area by kicking the ball into touch with at least
one bounce from their own half.
“We thought it was a 50:22. We got it wrong at the top,”
Nienaber said, as quoted by the Stuff.co.nz website.
“The ruck was inside New Zealand’s half and it was two
passes back and then we kicked the 50:22. It’s a new concept for us. It’s not
something that we have played, and it’s a rule that changed. We played the
British & Irish Lions, the last game was the seventh of August and the next
game was Argentina and this law was part of it.
“I’ll put my hand on up and say we got it wrong, and we
asked him to challenge. We were so sure, but then we looked back at the video
and saw that we got it completely wrong.”
Nienaber took the blame on his shoulders.
“Like I say, my fault. I thought it was a 50:22. Where we
kicked the ball was our half, and it went out in their 22, but we passed it
back [into our half].
“I think Australia and New Zealand have had two competitions
under that law, so they’re a little bit more familiar with it. Not that it’s
any excuse. We just wanted him to notify (the assistant referee). We apologise,
we just got it wrong.
“We saw it live and then re-winded and then … sorry. We
stuffed it up,” the Bok coach said.
The Springboks won the Test 31-29 after replacement flyhalf Elton Jantjies kicked a penalty after the hooter.