Competing with an unrelenting defensive display, South Africa beat the All Blacks 26-10 in a Lipovitan D Rugby Championship Test in Mbombela that will be known as the Turnover Test.
Hamstrung by a lack of possession, and unable to have any impact in achieving their flow, the All Blacks were unable to find any answers in a Test which for the 53 minutes saw the breakdown become the domain of Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx.
Over the ball he was consistently the man who put the All Blacks on the back foot, and when backed with determination at the tackle by the rest of the side, there was no way through until the 76th minute.
That came when wing Caleb Clarke was able to make a break. South Africa’s defensive determination was exemplified by fullback Damian Willemse who managed to pull Clarke down short of the line.
But replacement flanker Shannon Frizell was quick to the tackle and grabbed the ball to score a try at last.
As much as Marx was so dominant the All Blacks too often conceded easy ball to the home side.
Such was South Africa’s defensive intensity that they quickly latched onto any sniff of a chance and the All Blacks were guilty of feeding that hunger with too many loose passes – the result of their frustrations.
Clarke and Will Jordan were largely anonymous although one dangerous break by Jordan saw his ankles clipped just as he seemed ready to get clear.
Knock-ons compounded the situation and continued a trend that saw the All Blacks the worst offenders at knock-ons in the July Tests.
Second five-eighths David Havili, replacement hooker Dane Coles each lost ball in promising situations and it was almost symbolic of the game that in the last act Frizell knocked the ball on and replacement fullback Willie le Roux was on hand to grab the ball to score a soft try.
Penalties within goal-kicking positions also added to the self-inflicted pressure they found themselves under.
Springboks first five-eighth Handré Pollard landing three penalty goals and a dropped goal to keep the margin widening as he passed 100 points against the All Blacks with his first penalty goal.
While conceding a try in the eighth minute, it wasn’t a poor start to rank with those the All Blacks suffered in the second and third Tests against Ireland. Rather it was a case of being unable to prise the ball away from the Boks pack.
There were still frustrations with mistakes made in promising situations, and in the face of Springbok scrum pressure, with penalties conceded.
Under those circumstances containing them to 10 points in the first half was something of a triumph.
In the first quarter the All Blacks only had 22 per cent of possession which improved to 44 per cent by the break while South Africa enjoyed 58-42 territory advantage. However, by stringing more moves together in the second quarter the All Blacks forced the Springboks to make 55 tackles to 67.
The effort told in the last 10 minutes of the half as the big South African forwards showed the effects of the struggle. However, they worked their substitutions well to keep the pack fresh in the second half.
South Africa also had to make up for the 40-second loss of halfback Faf de Klerk, playing on his home ground. In attempting a tackle of wing Caleb Clarke his head clashed with Clarke’s knee and he was stretchered from the field.
In the case of all class sides, replacement Jaden Hendrikse, in his fifth Test, proved up to the task with an impressive display.
South Africa’s first try came from using their scrum to effect. Then Pollard launched a high kick outside the All Blacks 22m area, pint-sized wing Kurt-Lee Arendse contested with Jordie Barrett and the ball fell to centre Lukhanyo Am. Arendse was quickly in support and ran 22m in open space to score in the eighth minute.
Arendse marred an impressive display with seven minutes left when receiving a red card for taking Beauden Barrett out under a high ball.
Scorers: South Africa 26 (Kurt-Lee Arendse, Willie Le Roux tries; Handré Pollard 2 con, 3 pen, dropped goal) New Zealand (Shannon Frizell try; Jordie Barrett pen; Richie Mo’unga con). HT: 10-3
Aki Banned For Eight Weeks
Aki will be unavailable for the westerners’ next five URC games, including the derby clashes with Munster and Leinster, and will also miss at least the first two of Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures.
He will definitely be absent for the Tests against South Africa and Fiji, but could return to face Australia on Saturday, November 19 if he ‘successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme’.
After an act of foul play against Stormers winger Seabelo Senatla, referee Gianluca Gnecchi showed Aki a red card in the 60th minute of the game under law 9.20(a).
The particular law states that a player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without binding onto another player in the ruck or maul.
In his responses to the judicial officer overseeing the disciplinary process (Pamela Woodman from Scotland), Aki had accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a red card.
She determined that his actions towards Senatla were reckless and took into account, among other things, the speed, force and high degree of danger in his actions.
Ms. Woodman determined that, had it been based on this conduct alone, the offending would have been categorised as mid-range on the scale of seriousness.
However, she also considered Aki’s actions and demeanour towards the referee in connection with the issue of the red card, which she found did not meet the expected standards of conduct or respect.
This was also taken into account (in accordance with URC’s disciplinary rules) in determining that his offending was at the top-end on the scale of seriousness, which warranted an entry point sanction of 10 weeks.
The judicial officer then considered if there were any mitigating factors and found that Aki’s acceptance that he had committed an act of foul play (during the off-field disciplinary process), expression of remorse, apologies to both the opposing player and referee, and willingness to engage with his provincial coaching staff on a plan to address this issue, were relevant mitigating factors.
These mitigating factors warranted a reduction in the sanction of four weeks.
Aki’s previous suspensions for red cards in 2019 and 2021 for foul play involving head contact, as well as his suspension and warning for previous conduct relating to interactions with referees, were considered aggravating factors, which the judicial officer decided warranted a further two weeks of sanction.
As a result, the Ireland international will be suspended for a period of eight weeks. As previously stated, should he complete the Coaching Intervention programme then the sanction will be reduced by one week.
Fixtures Bundee Aki is unavailable for:
Vodacom Bulls v Connacht, September 30, BKT URC
Connacht v Munster, October 7, BKT URC
Connacht v Leinster, October 14, BKT URC
Connacht v Scarlets, October 21, BKT URC
Ospreys v Connacht, October 29, BKT URC
Ireland v South Africa, November 5, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Fiji, November 12, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Australia, November 19, Autumn Nations Series (substituted if the player successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme)
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Jones names squad for training camp
England will begin preparations for their four home Autumn Nations Series fixtures in November during the camp. The squad will meet in Richmond on Sunday 2 October and train at Twickenham Stadium.
First call-ups for camp include Northampton Saints’ Alex Coles and Saracens’ Hugh Tizard, both players having previously appeared for England U20s.
Manu Tuilagi and Sam Simmonds are back in the squad following injury and there are returns for Ben Youngs, Alex Mitchell, Tom Pearson and David Ribbans.
England face Argentina in the first of their four matches at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday 6 November (2.15pm KO). They will then host Japan on Saturday 12 November (3.15pm KO), followed by New Zealand on Saturday 19 November (5.30pm KO). Their final match is against South Africa on Saturday 26 November (5.30pm KO).
“With a year to go to the Rugby World Cup, this is a big opportunity for players to come in and impress,” said Jones. “We want them to show real energy and enthusiasm and that they want to be a part of this massive year.
“It doesn’t mean that those who have been left out won’t be considered for the Autumn Nations Series matches. We’ll be looking at club games, form and fitness and the door is left open for those players.
“We finished the Australia tour well. It was a fantastic experience, particularly for the younger players. We now have to start again, but we’ll build on what we’ve done there and continue that momentum.”
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 37 caps)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 41 caps)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 39 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 69 caps)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
Jonny Hill (Sale Sharks, 15 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 14 caps)
Tom Pearson (London Irish, uncapped)
David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)
Patrick Schickerling (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 14 caps)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 23 caps)
Hugh Tizard (Saracens, uncapped)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 64 caps)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 70 caps)
Jack Walker (Harlequins, uncapped)
Jack Willis (Wasps, 4 caps)
Henry Arundell (London Irish, 3 caps)
Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 97 caps)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)
Will Joseph (London Irish, 1 cap)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 69 caps)
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 42 caps)
Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 13 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 13 caps)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 46 caps)
Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 3 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 117 caps)
Unavailable for selection due to injury: Alfie Barbeary, Nic Dolly, Alex Dombrandt, Charlie Ewels, George Ford, Sam Jeffries, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Anthony Watson.
New governance structure agreed for rugby in Scotland
Scottish Rugby President Colin Rigby hailed a “significant milestone” for the game in Scotland when member clubs agreed a new governance structure at an online special general meeting last night.
The new structure, based on the recommendations on the Standing Committee on Governance (SCOG), sees the new Scottish Rugby Union (a company limited by guarantee) take on the responsibility for the oversight of the organisation’s main operating vehicle, Scottish Rugby.
It also will provide an oversight function to the organisation’s members.
Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, Interim Chair of the new Scottish Rugby Union, pledged to the SGM that “all the promises for a new, well-functioning governance system will absolutely be delivered.”
Professor Crerar also called on the membership to play its part in finding the “very best talent” to serve as “custodians” on the new company’s board.
Colin Rigby thanked members, SCOG, the Scottish Rugby Council and Scottish Rugby’s employees for their patience, while the new structure was arrived at.
He added: “This is a significant milestone in the history of the Scottish Rugby Union where all stakeholders now have clarity around governance, roles and responsibility.”
John Jeffrey remains chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board which will continue to oversee the day-to-day operational, commercial and executive functions of Scottish Rugby.
Earlier tonight, members voted unanimously to receive Scottish Rugby’s financial statements for 2021-22 at the second part of the organisation’s AGM.
During the period, overall revenue returned to within 5% of pre-pandemic levels at £57.9million, a rise of £5.5million from the previous year.
The accounts showed a deficit of £5.3 million on the base business, while the strategic investment from private equity partners CVC drove a gain on disposal of investment of £34.2million, bringing Scottish Rugby’s net surplus after tax to £29million for the year.
Images & Content – Scotland Rugby
Aki Banned For Eight Weeks
Jones names squad for training camp
New governance structure agreed for rugby in Scotland
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