Two Yellow Cards, and two players cited, within the space of a week leads us to ask the question. Are the Springboks the biggest cheats in World Rugby? Coach Peter de Villiers seemingly believes that his team doesn’t cheat enough, using that as yet another excuse for his team’s loss to the All Blacks last week.
De Villiers has been quoted as saying
“I don’t like to prepare the guys to cheat and it seems to me (it is) the only way going forward”
in frustration at his perception of how the rules have been applied of late. Well Green and Gold Rugby can reveal that the Springboks are the most sanctioned team in World Rugby using figures taken from the completion of the 2007 Rugby World Cup until now.
The current World Champions have been issued with a staggering 16 yellow cards over the last two and a half years. All under the domain of de Villiers. So when he asks the question as to whether they need to cheat more, just how far further does he think they need to go?
The fact that eight of his team named to take on the Wallabies on Saturday have been sent to the bin within his reign, seems to indicate that Peter is more than happy to condone this ill-discipline. The gang of eight (Butch James, CJ van der Linde, Dannie Rossouw, Jacque Fourie, Morne Steyn, Ryan Kankowski, Schalk Burger and Victor Matfield) would almost definitely have been joined by the suspended Bakkies Botha and the injured Bismarck du Plessis on this inglorious list, had they been available.
The Wallabies, on the other hand, have had just seven players shown yellow during a test since 2008.
The Sprinboks have an unlikely ally in the sanction department however. That of the ‘not so pure in white’ English team. The Poms trail the Boks by two cards over the same period and went through a particular horror spell a couple of years ago. The thing with the Poms, however, is that their coach Martin Johnson has identified ill discipline as a big issue for them to turn them around. The Bok coach wants his team to cheat more!
Below is a table of the (current) top sixteen ranked countries in World Rugby and how many Yellow and Red Cards they’ve received since the completion of the 2007 RWC, up until now.
The table shows that South Africa are also the World Champions of ill-discipline, co-incidentally with the 2007 RWC runner-up, the runner up on this ladder too. In third spot is the Nick Mallet (former Bok coach) led Italians, whilst Japan is the only other country in double figures.
But let’s see who the real trouble makers are. The 13 repeat offenders.
As you can see Argentina’s hardnosed prop Rodrigo Roncero leads the way with four separate cardable offenses. Ok, so fine, a Puma prop leads the way. I guess not totally beyond the realm of reality. Somewhat surprising is that next, in equal second position, are three centres! Not far behind RoRo are Englishman Mike Tindall, Seppo Paul Emerick and Italian Gonzalo Garcia. Each have received three on-field sanctions, however Emerick stands out for having been served a red, to go with his two yellows.
Then there are a bench full of dual offenders including Richard Brown, from Saturday’s Wallabies team, and Bakkies Botha who would have been turning out for the Boks, had he not been suspended for head butting Jimmy Cowan.
But let’s not make out that the Springboks are the only bad guys. They may well have met their match. In Georgia.
In their 21 games since RWC2007, Georgia have had 19 yellow cards served against their players. That’s almost one a match! Come the next RWC in New Zealand, they’ve been drawn with England, so let’s just hope the IRB sets aside an extra big bench for the sin bin that night.