Spring­boks ‘praised ref­eree’s phys­i­cal con­di­tion to win favour in World Cup fi­nal’

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Ben Coles

South Africa com­pli­mented ref­eree Jerome Garces on his phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance in or­der to re­ceive favourable de­ci­sions dur­ing last year’s Rugby World Cup, a new book into the Spring­boks’ tri­umphant cam­paign has re­vealed.

Rassie Eras­mus, then South Africa’s head coach and now SA Rugby’s di­rec­tor of rugby, launched an ex­ten­sive study into the man­ner­isms of all the game’s top ref­er­ees fol­low­ing South Africa’s con­tro­ver­sial 12-11 de­feat by Eng­land in Novem­ber 2018, when Owen Far­rell was sur­pris­ingly not pe­nalised for a high tackle late in the game.

The book, Mir­a­cle Men, writ­ten by Lloyd Burnard, ex­am­ines how Eras­mus turned South Africa around in his two years as head coach, with the re­search that went into un­der­stand­ing the game’s lead­ing ref­er­ees in or­der to po­ten­tially get the rub of the green prov­ing ben­e­fi­cial in Ja­pan.

South Africa com­fort­ably de­feated Eng­land in the fi­nal, with Garces on the whis­tle.

“The re­search included anal­y­sis on how the ref­er­ees blew games of rugby, from scrum­mag­ing to the dark arts at the break­down and the off­side line,” Burnard writes, in an ex­cerpt pub­lished by SA Rugby

Mag­a­zine. “But it went much deeper than that. The level of de­tail in the ref­er­ee­ing re­ports included per­son­al­ity traits, all with the hope of find­ing an edge. The Spring­boks would role-play at team meet­ings and at train­ing ses­sions, prac­tis­ing what they would say to the match of­fi­cials with the re­search in mind.

“The re­port com­piled on Garces, for ex­am­ple, re­vealed he re­sponded well to be­ing com­pli­mented on his phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance. If the match was fast-paced, the Boks would make a point of prais­ing Garces on his con­di­tion and his abil­ity to keep up with the play­ers, hop­ing to rub him up the right way.”

The book also de­tails how South Africa as­signed play­ers with in­di­vid­ual roles when it came to in­ter­act­ing with Garces. Duane Ver­meulen, the man of the match in the fi­nal, would raise any con­cerns, while cap­tain Siya Kolisi would take a more re­spect­ful ap­proach.

Hav­ing recog­nised that Garces favoured sides who showed “a clean set-piece” at the scrum and li­ne­out, Spring­bok hook­ers Bonga Mbonambi and Mal­colm Marx were put in charge of en­sur­ing both ar­eas re­mained well-struc­tured.

Charm of­fen­sive: Re­search sug­gested ref­eree Jerome Garces re­sponded well to praise

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