Boks blame themselves for loss
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer refused to get embroiled in the controversy surrounding the red card for Bismarck du Plessis in Saturday’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship loss to the All Blacks.
Meyer was asked about his reaction to the first yellow shown to Du Plessis, given that even the New Zealanders thought the it was a travesty, but the Bok coach sidestepped the question, saying: “We know the New Zealanders to be very knowledgeable people. But in our team we have a saying – the ref is always right.”
Despite the card ruining the game as a spectacle, Meyer reacted diplomatically, aware that any public criticism of the referee would bring about more sanction for his team from IRB officials just waiting for coaches to criticise referees.
Asked if the referee had handled the game well, Meyer was coy, but said “I think you know the answer to that.”
But he refused to blame the loss on the match officials.
“We don’t have any excuses. We wanted the game to be a spectacle but I don’t think we played well. But we did have a chance after halftime – I don’t want to take anything away from them because they are a quality side – but I felt they outplayed us in the first 30, but there was a momentum shift after that rolling maul. If you’re within seven points you’re in the game.
“They did play brilliantly tonight. You can’t play them with 14 men without your hooker because then you can’t scrum well and you don’t have a loose forward, because a lot of the plays are around the loose forward and you can’t scrum. So you’re always under pressure there on your own ball.
"They played well and it is a pity it happened, but we will take it on the chin and move on.”
Meyer was proud of his side, who lost the second half 12-5 despite being a man down for most of the half.
“Any average side would get 50 with 14 men, especially at Eden Park. I always believe that if you start to make excuses for your team, then they make excuses. We’re not going to make excuses.
"There are a lot of things that weren’t good enough, even when we had 15 men on the field. If you don’t grow, you don’t learn, and then you’re never going to be the best team in the world.
“We are on a learning curve, there are two games left and we want to win those as well.”
Captain Jean de Villiers said the team took responsibility and blamed themselves for the loss.
“The All Blacks are a tough team to play when you have 15 on the field, so when you have 14 on the field it really is a tough ask. We haven’t won here in almost 80 years, so doing it with 14 men isn’t going to happen. It did take some of the spectacle away.
“But then again it is what it is and the one thing we mustn’t look past is that this is a quality New Zealand side, they were the better team on the day. They played better than us and we need to take a hard look at ourselves at how we performed. That certainly was not a performance that was good enough to compete with them.
“From a preparation point of view, we competed very well, the management did all they could do to prepare us and we had a fantastic game-plan. But for this performance, the fault goes 100% to the players and we need to take the fault 100% for that.
“We let our country down tonight but we still have two games to compete and we realise we’re still a way away from competing with the best.”