The ‘match-fixing’ question put to Springboks boss Jacques Nienaber

Jacques Nienaber, the head coach of the Springboks, was perplexed by a question after the game on Sunday in Marseille about the possibility that Ireland and Scotland might reach a compromise and play out a result the following Saturday in Paris that would see the two Celtic nations advance to the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals at the expense of the 2019 champions.

Following their victory over Tonga at the Stade Velodrome, South Africa is presently in first place in Pool B. They have 15 points, Ireland, who has never lost, is in second place with 14 points, and Scotland is in third place with 10.

All three teams would finish with 15 points if the Scots earned a bonus point victory next weekend and the Irish received a losing bonus point, which would determine the pool standings.

Currently, the Springboks are on +117, Ireland on +122 and Scotland +97 – and Springboks boss Nienaber was horrified by the idea that a result to eliminate South Africa purposely could be concocted.

Finishing up his post-game media briefing after the Springboks’ 49-18 win over Tonga, Nienaber was asked by a French journalist about the mathematics surrounding next weekend’s pool finale at Stade de France.

“Could I believe in a scenario that they will decide, ‘Okay, we want to get this amount of points and then get South Africa out of the way?’


“That would probably be match-fixing I would say. I hope not. Rugby’s clean. We wear those T-shirts. Hopefully not because that would be extremely disappointing, don’t you think?”




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By narrowly defeating a tenacious Tonga team 49-18 (with a halftime score of 21-8) on a warm evening at the Stade de Marseille on Sunday, the Springboks all but assured their spot in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals, barring a mathematical miracle for Scotland.

The senior flank Makazole Mapimpi had to be substituted early due to a serious facial injury sustained in a clash, though, raising serious injury concerns for the team.

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Coach Jacques Nienaber delivered bad news on the injury front, saying wing Makazole Mapimpi suffered a cheek injury in the match.

It is the sort of injury that usually rules a player out for a few weeks.

“Makazole has a fractured cheekbone, so he’ll go for scans on Monday to determine the seriousness of the injury,” said Nienaber.

Mapimpi’s face was visibly swollen when he left the field after a collision that only resulted in a penalty against Tonga.


Nienaber said it was not uncharted territory for the Boks because the team had one week free before learning their destiny in the competition and another week before the quarterfinal.

It’s good for us because it was comparable to our 2019 campaign, said Nienaber. “As a team, we’ve done it previously. We also finished the pool stages early and took a 12 or 13 day holiday.

“We’ll give the players two or three days off so they can take a mental vacation and go away from rugby, and after that, we’ll work on the things we can do to improve so we can compete all the way to the end.

“Only on Friday and Saturday will we be able to determine the results of our pool and the one including France and New Zealand.

Correct me if I’m wrong but we have actually guaranteed qualifiation no matter what happens between Scotland and Ireland.

If Scotland win that game with a bonus point and Ireland also get a bonus point then with all 3 being on 15 points it goes to head to heads which would be null since each of the three has beaten one of the others and lost to one of the others.

So it would then come down to points diff and in order for Scotland to catch our points diff they would have to beat Ireland by at least 20 which would then leave Ireland with a lower points diff then us and we’d qualify along with Scotland. Otherwise we’d have a higher points diff than Scotland and qualify along with Ireland.

Therefore there is no possibility of us not qualifying irrespective of what happens in that game. What am I missing?


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