VIDEO: Boks not trying to manipulate referees
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has opened up on his team’s good-cop-bad-cop approach when dealing with referees on the field.
That approach was on display at the 2019 World Cup – when captain Siyamthanda Kolisi was tasked with staying on the good side of referees, while No.8 Duane Vermeulen was tasked with challenging on-field decisions.
Nienaber said the whole purpose of the approach was to help the team engage with officials more constructively.
“I am an Afrikaans boy coming from Bloemfontein and it isn’t natural for me to challenge authority or to question authority,” said Nienaber.
“In our environment, we had to find a way to address it. In an English environment, they will question and they will ask.
“As an Afrikaans guy, it is about being seen not heard. That was a common thing, that your dad will tell you on a Sunday [to be seen, not heard].
“There is a hierarchy.
“For an Afrikaans guy to talk to a referee is weird. He is in a position of authority, so it was just about putting a guy in a role.
“If I am the bad cop, I am the guy that is going to question things, so you almost put on a suit. I am going to be the bad cop for today or I am going to be the encourager today. You are an actor; you are playing a role.
“If things at the breakdown are not going well, then you have to ask [questions] and you must find a solution. That is what a bad cop does.”
Nienaber added: “People might think we are trying to manipulate the referee and that is not the case.
“It’s about us getting certain players to challenge authority and to ask questions.”
The Bok coach added that the approach was not only meant for referees but teammates as well.
(Article continues below video …)
“A good cop is someone that would encourage a teammate after did something good, such as a great cleanout or a good tackle. It’s not just about referees,” the coach said.
Nienaber said they will not be formulating game plans based on who the referee is for each match in the British and Irish Lions series.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Nic Berry (Australia), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) and Mathieu Raynal (France) have been appointed to officiate the Tests in that series.
“It won’t influence the way we will play or do our planning. Obviously, every single coach will look at trends on referees. Certain referees have certain trends, and we haven’t even looked at their trends,” Nienaber added.