The beers are on Willie
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: Willie le Roux was a relieved man at the end of the epic Rugby Championship match between the All Blacks and the Springboks in Wellington.
Le Roux put in an improved performance at the Westpac Stadium to help the record a shock 36-34 win at the Westpac Stadium. He put wing Aphiwe Dyantyi away for the first of his two tries before scoring one himself after picking off a Jordie Barrett quick throw-in.
However, there was a stage when the fullback thought he had lost the match when he was shown a yellow card for a cynical ruck infringement close to his own line with 15 minutes to play on Saturday.
“I was thinking ‘am I letting my team down now? If they score now or we lose it’s going to be on me because I got a yellow’,” Le Roux said after the match. “But luckily it didn’t work out like that and I owe the guys a beer.”
Le Roux ranked his side’s performance highly when asked how it compares to other efforts in the green jersey.
‘There have been quite a few good performances before, but all week we have been saying it was for us; us 23 playing, the management, all the guys travelling with us and training with us. It’s just about putting pride back in the jersey and making the people back home proud.”
A mammoth defensive effort proved to be a deciding factor in the victory, but the Springboks were still able to capitalise on their chances with ball in hand as they ran in five tries.
“Yes, there are games where you try a lot and it doesn’t work out and there are games when you get one or two opportunities and you take them and you win the game,” he said. “I think the All Blacks, when they switch on and you lose your concentration for one second, that’s when they capitalise. That’s why they’re so dangerous so you can’t give them any space or any opportunities.
‘They roll the dice, but they’ve been winning all their games,” he said. “It’s just about being awake for the scraps and the ball is bouncing.”
After the match, Le Roux was asked if it felt like he hit the lottery after the Barrett throw-in went astray.
“I was actually going for the tackle full-on. I was going down to tackle [Rieko Ioane] and I think the ball back-spun into me. Like I said, luck of the bounce,” said Le Roux.
“I ran and went to score the try but I thought the touch judge was calling me back or something because I didn’t know what was going on, I don’t score many tries. It’s a nice feeling. Maybe I could say I won the lottery there.”
The Springboks now head home and will host the Wallabies at Port Elizabeth on September 29. Le Roux may have played his last match of the Rugby Championship as he heads to the UK to re-join Premiership club Wasps.