Ref got scrum call correct – Meyer

Date published: July 26 2015

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has come to the defence of referee Jérôme Garcès for calling for uncontested scrums in Saturday's loss to New Zealand.

Both of South Africa's nominated specialist tightheads – Jannie du Plessis, Vincent Koch – were forced off injured during the 27-20 defeat at Ellis Park.

According to World Rugby regulations, a team must name their loosehead and tighthead props before kick-off and if both players in a position are injured, scrums are no longer contested.

The fact that South Africa's other replacement prop – Trevor Nyakane – can play tighthead was irrelevant according to the laws of the game.

"I support his call as both our tightheads were injured and the law has to be followed, as it is there to protect the players," explained Meyer.

"It did come at a bad time for us though, as we were really scrumming well. We also lost Francois Louw at a crucial time, and we dominated the breakdowns at that stage."

Meyer lamented the number of injuries that dogged his team in the match. All of Du Plessis, Koch, Lood de Jager and Louw were forced off. 

"Jannie has a knee injury, Flo (Francois Louw) injured a shoulder and Vincent and Warren (Whiteley) probably have broken ribs," he revealed. 

"This resulted in us having to use the bench much earlier than we wanted, and even using Adriaan Strauss as a flanker. I am happy that our plans worked well, but when the injuries struck, we lost too much momentum."

Meyer did however express his satisfaction with his team’s Rugby World Cup preparations, despite the late defeat. Meyer felt that the result could have gone either way.

"I expected the match to be as tight as this," said Meyer.

"I thought we might have the luck with a TMO call in the second half, but like last weekend, it went against us. 

"It is part of rugby, but I really thought we did enough to score there. That would have eased the pressure on us in the last couple of minutes as we would have had a ten point margin."

Meyer praised the return of Heinrich Brüssow and the captaincy of Schalk Burger, as well as the strong performances from younger players such as Jesse Kriel.

"Lood was also really good, considering that it is only his second game of rugby in a long time," he said.

"He had big shoes to fill in calling the lineouts, and when he left the field, we lost some shape. We have some locks like Victor (Matfield) and Pieter Steph du Toit coming back, so I am pleased about that."

Meyer also believes the mental strength and attitude of the squad bodes well for Rugby World Cup. 

"The guys know they can beat anyone," he added.

"We came within inches of beating both the Wallabies and All Blacks and that is a massive improvement if you considered where we were just after the Vodacom Super Rugby competition. I know we are inches away from clicking. We produced some brilliant attack at times." 

The coach however admitted that the defeat stung. 

"We want to make the nation proud and need to win in order to do that," said Meyer.

"But I am pleased that we are progressing very well and it will be a very fit and strong squad of 31 that will travel to England."

Springbok captain Schalk Burger said the defeat was hard to swallow, as the team had not capitalised on the numerous opportunities they created. 

"It is not easy to beat the All Blacks and they showed why tonight," said Burger. 

"They used a limited number of chances well, and we did not. But there are many positives as well, and we will keep on working." 

The squad will re-assembles in Durban on Sunday.