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'World Cup is not always about champagne rugby'

REACTION: New Zealanders fired pot-shots at will for the last couple of weeks, but the Springboks are unruffled by suggestions they are ‘boring’.

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All Black coach Ian Foster fired off the first barbs late last month, with retired players like Jeff Wilson and John Kirwan jumping on the bandwagon.

It started after New Zealand’s 96-17 demolition job of Italy, less than a week after Ireland eked out a 13-8 win over South Africa.

Foster, in his post-match press conference, said he felt the All Black brand was far more entertaining than the arm-wrestle between Ireland and South Africa.

“If you look at the South Africa-Ireland game, it was a different game of rugby,” the All Black coach said.

“The ball was in play for 27 minutes throughout the whole game.

“It was a very stop-start game, very physical, very combative.

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“You saw a different spectacle tonight [New Zealand’s 79-point win on September 29].

“At some point, the world has got to decide which game it would rather watch.”

Wilson and Kirwan took it a step further,

“South Africa play a certain style, England play a certain game style. Obviously, the Wallabies, and the All Blacks [play differently]. France is somewhere in the middle. Ireland likes to hold onto the ball,” Wilson said on The Breakdown show.

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“We’ve got variety, but in the end, we’re spending a lot of time talking about the atmosphere in and around the stadium and the crowd.

“We’re spending more time talking about that rather than what’s happening on the field. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, defences are still winning in the big games.”

Kirwan outright called the Boks ‘boring’ to watch and suggested that World Rugby needs to step in.

“When people are doing a Mexican Wave, they’re bored,” Kirwan said, adding: “I was bored during that game because it was stop-start. Now, the game needs to change. It’s an anaerobic game; we need to be an aerobic game.”

(Ian Foster takes potshots at South Africa and Ireland …)

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South African assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said they are not concerned about those fringe voices.

“World Cup rugby does not need to be pretty,” Stick said ahead of the Springboks quarterfinal face-off with host France in Paris this coming Sunday..

“You can go back to 1995, there was nothing about beautiful rugby in that game.

“The World Cup is a tough tournament; most finals were won through kicking.

“Even the 2019 Final – it is great to see the final score of 32-12 [in South Africa’s favour against England], it was a game between Handre Pollard and Owen Farrell

“Handre [Pollard] kept ticking the scoreboard over and England started to feel the scoreboard pressure – doing things that they don’t normally do.

“Unfortunately, World Cup rugby is not always about champagne rugby.

“Ian Foster whatever he wants to say about how we play the game, but the game between South Africa and Ireland – ask anybody at that stadium – the spectators were entertained for 80 minutes.

“He has the right to express his opinion, but ask anyone – they were entertained by out game against Ireland.

“For me, that was the game of the tournament, so far.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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