Wales and Kolisis South Africa resume rivalry with unresolved results | Wales rugby union team
R.Ugby is a game that includes several points of varying degrees that are collected in different ways. Five for an attempt, three after a drop goal, a full seven for a penalty attempt. But beyond that, rugby is a game with unexplained results. Collected by resentment and locked away like a fermenting sourdough starter. Competitions won or lost are not simply viewed for the singular event that they are, but are categorized into a broader narrative that includes sweeping stories.
There are more than a few unfinished business at stake as the South African springboks hit the field on Saturday at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, with both hosts and guests eager to balance their respective accounts.
Siya Kolisi’s side arrived in Wales this week after having not won the country since 2013. They lost each of their last four visits to Cardiff and also lost the 2018 Washington DC friendly, which was the first game of the Rassie Erasmus era.
“We know where we made mistakes,” said Kolisi on Friday, underscoring his commitment to tackling a mistake on his nation’s record. “There were games in which we were totally beaten. We know what to do. We did a lot more research. “
Nobody used the word “revenge” in the construction, but it could well have been mentioned. Speaking to the Guardian this week, Wales’ young winger Louis Rees-Zammit was optimistic about his claim that Warren Gatland’s conservative tactics cost the British and Irish Lions a straight win in South Africa. Had the team’s exciting backline been unleashed, Rees-Zammit argued, things might have turned out differently.
Wales coach Wayne Pivac kept himself out of the debate and defended his player by saying, “I don’t know if Louis was asked a question or if he went down that route and he just came out because I did I don’t think he’s a young man who would criticize Warren with the way he plays. However, he promised to “play a little more than the Lions surely did”.
Then there is the matter of the last world championships. Pivac said his team is preparing for the next one in France in 2023, but Welsh fans will be all too aware that the Boks have their number at the four-year showpiece. In 2015, Handré Pollard’s 18 points were the difference to a 23:19 quarter-final win at Twickenham. In the 2019 semi-finals, Pollard’s shoe again proved crucial in a hard-fought 19-16 win.
Wayne Pivac knows that his team has to be close to the best to beat the world champion. Photo: Warren Little / Getty Images
“When you play against Wales there are things you know, you know they’re going to be physical,” said Kolisi, echoing Erasmus’ comments in the documentary Chasing the Sun, in which he called the Welsh “tough fuckers, none.” Sissies “highlights like Ireland”. Kolisi added, “This is why the bomb squad is so important,” referring to the team’s nickname for their much-lauded bank.
The Springbok captain also praised fellow flanker Ellis Jenkins, who is returning to test rugby after a three-year absence following a serious knee injury. His last game was Wales’ 20-11 win over South Africa in 2018, in which he was recognized as player of the game but was also pushed off the pitch with ligament injuries in the final minutes. “It’s always hard to watch a player get injured, be it the teammate or the competition,” said Kolisi. “I am really happy that he is fit again. Thanks to him and his medical team. “
This is where the subtleties end. And despite Pivac’s claims and Rees-Zammit’s wishes, the 80 minutes will more than likely resemble previous encounters between two teams trying to dominate the front.
“They play a similar type of game,” argued Kolisi when asked to share his views on the ongoing discussion about his team’s approach to the game. There is no doubt that the fare was onerous during the Lions series, but the results of the past two years speak for themselves. Barring two mishaps against Australia, the Springboks were only a late penalty away from beating New Zealand twice in the rugby championship. Add a Lions series win and a World Cup trophy at home and it’s easy to see why Kolisi shrugged off criticism like would-be staplers.
“They’re obviously world class,” said Pivac. “We have to be in top form.” Do that and Wales can settle a point or two in the process.
Wales: McNicholl; Rees-Zammit, J Davies (Captain), Tompkins, Adams; Biggar, T. Williams; Carre, Elias, Francis, Rowlands, Beard, Jenkins, Basham, Wainwright
Substitute: Roberts, Jones, John, Carter, S Davies, G Davies, Anscombe, L Williams
South Africa: Willemse; Kriel, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, H. Jantjies; Nché, Mbonambi, Nyakane, Etzebeth, De Jager, Kolisi (Capt), Smith, Vermeulen
Substitute: Marx, Kitshoff, Koch, Mostert, Wiese, Reinach, E. Jantjies, Steyn