Ja­pan not tak­ing Su­per Rugby se­ri­ously: Mal­lett

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Ja­pan are not tak­ing Su­per Rugby se­ri­ously, says TV an­a­lyst and for­mer Spring­boks coach Nick Mal­lett af­ter the Tokyo-based Sun­wolves were hu­mil­i­ated 94-7 by Golden Lions at the week­end. The Jo­han­nes­burg side equalled the competition try-scor­ing record for one team in a sin­gle match by run­ning in 14 for the sec­ond big­gest Su­per Rugby win­ning mar­gin.

Sun­wolves were trail­ing by 59 points dur­ing the sec­ond half at El­lis Park stadium when Tonga-born sub­sti­tute for­ward Uwe Helu scored the lone try for the Ja­panese side. The most hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat by the two-year-old fran­chise an­gered Mal­lett, one of the most out­spo­ken voices on rugby in South Africa.

“Ja­panese rugby of­fi­cials are not tak­ing the Su­per Rugby competition se­ri­ously,” he said on Jo­han­nes­burg-based Su­perS­port TV. “Un­less of­fi­cials in that coun­try change course, there are go­ing to be a lot more heavy de­feats in the fu­ture, some even heav­ier than the one this week­end.

“Sun­wolves were in­tro­duced to Su­per Rugby so that a strong Ja­panese na­tional team could be built as they pre­pare to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“But many of the best Ja­panese rugby play­ers are turn­ing out for com­pa­ny­owned clubs in the coun­try and not for the Sun­wolves. “The best Ja­panese play­ers have to play for the Sun­wolves, oth­er­wise they are go­ing to be em­bar­rassed many more times.

“In the match against the Lions they missed 53 tack­les-you can­not com­pete suc­cess­fully in Su­per Rugby with that sort of statis­tic,” warned Mal­lett.

“The Sun­wolves de­fence was nonex­is­tent and they were con­tin­u­ally smashed in the scrums,” said the man who guided South Africa to third place at the 1999 Rugby World Cup. “Had it been a box­ing match, the white towel would have been flung into the ring by half­time.” Another Su­perS­port an­a­lyst, 2007 Spring­boks World Cup-win­ning fly-half Butch James, was equally crit­i­cal of the Sun­wolves. “The one thing sup­port­ers of any rugby team ex­pect is com­mit­ment and effort we saw nei­ther from the Sun­wolves at El­lis Park.” South Africaborn Sun­wolves skip­per and loose for­ward Wil­lie Britz-one of three nonJa­panese starters against the Lions-was blunt af­ter the thrash­ing.

“If you do not keep the ball and make your tack­les, you are go­ing to be in big trou­ble, es­pe­cially against a team as strong as the Lions.

Sun­wolves play Western Storm­ers in Cape Town next Satur­day and com­plete their sea­son the fol­low­ing week­end by host­ing the Auck­land Blues from New Zealand. The Tokyo out­fit have played 28 Su­per Rugby matches since de­but­ing last year, win­ning two, draw­ing one, los­ing 25, scor­ing 545 points and con­ced­ing 1,225. Both vic­to­ries came in Ja­pan, against the Ar­gen­tine Jaguares last sea­son and the South African North­ern Bulls this year. —AFP

HOHENSTEIN-ERNSTTHAL: Moto GP rid­ers Jonas Fol­ger of Germany, Marc Mar­quez of Spain, and Dani Pe­drosa of Spain, from left to right, pose on the podium af­ter win­ning the Ger­man Mo­tor­cy­cle Grand Prix at the Sach­sen­ring cir­cuit in Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany, yesterday. Mar­quez won the race, Fol­ger fin­ished sec­ond Pe­drosa was third. —AP

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