- Bulls mentor Jake White still needs some convincing in terms of whether the Rainbow Cup’s trial laws will improve the overall product.
- He’s not too keen on innovations such as the captain’s call, but is more amenable to the new red card regulations and stricter laws.
- Meanwhile, the Lions are fearing the worst after fullback Tiaan Swanepoel went off early with a suspected ankle injury that’s been labelled serious.
Saturday night’s Rainbow Cup SA derby between the Bulls and Lions at Loftus was admittedly a match not unduly affected by them, but it’s going to take a while still to totally convince Jake White of the trial laws currently employed in the tournament.
The scrap, won 22-9 by the hosts, wasn’t blighted by red cards like the Stormers-Sharks battle down at the Cape Town Stadium, though Dan Kriel’s canny captain’s call prevented Morne Steyn’s sublime cross-kick turning into a try for Madosh Tambwe in the 70th minute due to a skew line-out throw.
The wily White knows his team is unlikely to be left as untouched in future.
“It’s going to be one of those things you have to get used to,” he said afterwards.
“I haven’t particularly enjoyed the captain’s referrals all the time or things like when you carry over the ball you get a goal-line dropout. But again, that’s maybe because we’ve just been used to the previous laws over time. It hasn’t been like that before.
“I don’t believe it’s ideal.”
The Bulls’ director of rugby, however, was a bit more philosophical over the increased vigilance when it comes to potential red card offences.
Both teams were penalised once for chasers of aerial kicks making contact with an opponent in landing back on their feet despite contesting fairly for the ball, illustrating the immensely small margin for error.
“The red card rule is to be expected. There’s a massive push overall for players to abide to the laws, change their height when they go into contact, defensively and on attack,” said White.
“I suppose today’s round of action provided evidence that if you’re not going to do it, you’re going to be found out. It’s something we’re working on hard, breakdown wise, carrying low, defensively making sure you’re body position is fine.
“If it’s going to speed up the game and make it safer then fine. We want young boys to play rugby, not mums say that it’s too dangerous. We want to grow the game and if these nuances and laws are going to help, then we’re for it.”
From a more general technical perspective, White was left frustrated by his charges being denied two further tries following interventions from the TMO, Marius van der Westhuizen.
Lock Janko Swanepoel’s first-half try was scrapped by a knock-on at a previous breakdown, Stravino Jacobs couldn’t claim a classic winger’s score because of obstruction at a line-out and Lions fullback EW Viljoen’s yellow card for a deliberate knockdown, ironically, might warranted further investigation into whether a penalty try was appropriate.
“It was frustrating. Every time we thought there was some daylight between us and the Lions in terms of the scoreline, we were back at square one. But the fact that we won is all that mattered,” said White.
Meanwhile, Ivan van Rooyen, the Lions’ head coach, admitted he is fearing the worst after influential fullback Tiaan Swanepoel cried off early with a suspected ankle injury.
“We’ll have to see what the doctor says, but it sounds serious,” he said.
“It’s definitely a lower limb problem.”