Following a 76-0 victory for South Africa over Romania in their Rugby World Cup clash, here’s our five takeaways from the Pool B match in Bordeaux on Sunday.
Cobus Reinach a chance taker
His last Rugby World Cup start came in 2019, against Canada, and on that day he crossed for a record-breaking hat-trick that saw him complete his treble in 21 minutes. Fast forward four years to his next start at the global tournament and he came just three minutes short of matching his own record in the first half.
Reinach really is a poacher whether it’s in the opposition red zone or sniping from distance and the Springboks know they can rely on him to deliver the goods when he gets a chance in the pool games. Romania could not live with his predatory nature as the speedster made the most of a rare start in the green and gold.
As everybody knows, South Africa are well stocked at scrum-half but after this 46 minutes performance he should remain in second position in the pecking order.
2 – Cobus Reinach has scored the two earliest hat-tricks in men's @rugbyworldcup history, his 3rd try against Romania came in the 24th minute while he completed a hat-trick against Canada in the 21st minute at the 2019 tournament. Hurried. pic.twitter.com/CltcWJW1Gl
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) September 17, 2023
Boks race out of the blocks
While Reinach couldn’t beat his own personal record, the Springboks at least chalked another one up on Sunday and that is the quickest time to seal a bonus-point.
Four tries in just 11 minutes and 13 seconds sums up what a determined start it was from South Africa as Reinach (2), Makazole Mapimpi and Damian Willemse all crossed the whitewash before the rain came in Bordeaux. There was a real spring in the Boks’ step as they looked to get the job done as quickly as possible.
Thereafter it was about totting up the points tally and utilising all the bench while experimenting with different options, making the most of the afternoon.
4 tries in 11:13 🤯
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 17, 2023
Jean Kleyn is a lucky boy
Another game, another controversial moment at this Rugby World Cup as Jean Kleyn avoided being carded for his high tackle on Romania lock Adrian Motoc in the first half. The second-row was penalised but no further sanction was forthcoming from the match officials, with the TMO deeming his first contact was to the chest.
After several replays we’re struggling to agree with Brett Cronan as it looks to us like it was initially shoulder to head as the Boks kept 15 players on the field.
It might be a nervous wait for Kleyn to discover if anything comes from the disciplinary committee in the coming days, but perhaps the dip in height saves him.
“First contact was to the chest” pic.twitter.com/2VMVeKENEo
— Andy McGeady (@andymcgeady) September 17, 2023
A day of experimentation
With four scrum-halves named in the matchday 23, the theme of experimentation was evident as soon as the team was announced in midweek. Only Reinach and replacement Jaden Hendrikse played in their regular position as Grant Williams started on the wing before Faf de Klerk came on in the fly-half spot.
It wasn’t just in the backline too as the rumoured shift of Marco van Staden from flanker to hooker came to fruition as he packed down in the middle of the scrum and threw into the lineouts. As mentioned, Reinach grabbed a treble while Williams would finish with two scores, one of which was expertly laid on by De Klerk.
While the opposition was below what they will face next week and later in the tournament, this was a good day of learning for Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber.
Bring on Boks v Ireland
And so to next week. What a match we have in prospect between the Springboks and Ireland in what is likely to decide who finishes top of Pool B and ultimately avoids hosts France in the quarters. It should be an epic game between two of the form teams in world rugby and could well turn out to be the final next month.
Both have their tails up at the moment with Ireland having just put 59 points on Tonga after racking up 82 on Romania in their opening game. They are tracking nicely ahead of arguably their biggest match of the pool stage and with the Springboks also in fine fettle, this will be a full-blooded affair, make no mistake.
Who comes out on top will give themselves a more favourable route to the final which only adds to the excitement. Clear your schedule for next Saturday night.
It is going to be some game between South Africa and Ireland in Paris next Saturday. An absolute belter, to use the technical jargon!
— Simon Thomas Rugby (@simonrug) September 17, 2023