KOBE, Japan — South Africa demolished 14-man Canada 66-7 to pretty much confirm its place in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday.
The Springboks scored 10 tries and had four tries and a bonus point in a whirlwind first 17 minutes at Kobe Misaki Stadium to run the Canadians off their feet.
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Canada was already 40-0 down when replacement lock Josh Larsen was the sixth man sent off at the tournament, this time for a shoulder charge to the neck of South Africas Thomas du Toit at a ruck just before halftime.
Reinach, South Africas third-choice No. 9, scored two scorchers. He broke, raced away, chipped over fullback Andre Coe and collected with a little juggle for his first. He finished a move from inside South Africas 22 for his hat trick, when Elton Jantjies dropped a crosskick over Canadas backline, wing Warrick Gelant caught it and broke, and fed de Allende who found Reinach to race away and finish between the posts.
Strangely, facing what threatened to be the biggest beating of the World Cup so far, the red card seemed to lift Canada for a period.
The Canadians were conceding far worse than a point a minute for the first 30 minutes and 47-0 behind at halftime. But they scored their one try early in the second half when it was 14 vs. 15. They also kept the Springboks scoreless for 15 minutes after the break while a man down.
The Boks slowed down, strangely around the time Canada had replacement lock Josh Larsen sent off for a shoulder charge to the neck of South Africa prop Thomas du Toit at a ruck. Larsen was the sixth man to be red-carded at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, which was already the worst tournament for reds.
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Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach had a hat trick in the opening 20 minutes. The Boks added just three tries in the second to their seven tries in the first half, underlining the gutsy work by Canada after losing Larsen.
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The biggest cheer was for Canada flanker Matt Heaton when he drove over in the 45th to make his first test try one against the two-time World Cup champions.
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South Africa would only be denied a place in the quarterfinals if Italy beats defending champion New Zealand by a huge margin in their final Pool B game, and both teams also get a bonus point in the process. Italy has never beaten New Zealand, let alone by the 100-plus points required to keep the Springboks out of their seventh quarterfinals in seven attempts.
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South Africas backs ran riot in the first half in Kobe with the first seven of the Springboks scores and eight of the 10 coming through the backline.
Veteran hooker Schalk Brits and prop Frans Malherbe, who ground over for the last try in the 73rd minute, were the only forwards to score.
South Africas first try through centre Damian de Allende arrived in the third minute. The two-time champions had their bonus-point fourth try in 17 minutes. It was 40-0 after 29 minutes.
Plus, Irish referee David McHugh, who also ejected Canadian prop Rod Snow and Springboks hooker James Dalton, gave Rees the red card he brandished after the games infamous second-half brawl. The card, framed in a picture of Rees and Snow with a note from McHugh, is on display in Reess home.
Reinachs third was the pick of the tries. Elton Jantjies dropped a crosskick over Canadas backline from inside his 22, wing Warrick Gelant caught it and broke, and fed de Allende who found Reinach to finish between the posts.
Canada had one good attack in the half and the fans roared them on. But wing DTH van der Merwe couldnt hold on to a crosskick in the corner when a try was up for grabs. Van der Merwe also spilled a chance late in the second half which could have made him just the fifth player to score a try in four World Cups.
While Canada has played New Zealand in four of the last five Rugby World Cups, the Canadians have faced South Africa only once in the quadrennial tournament, in a game still known as the Battle of Boet Eramus, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in 1995.
Today (7:45 a.m NT, TSN) at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the Canadians and South Africans will do battle for just the third time in their respective rugby histories.Two Newfoundlanders will be in Canada’s lineup today, with Ciaran Hearn of Conception Bay South and Patrick Parfrey of St. John’s named as starters against the Springboks.
The June 3, 1995 game at Boet Erasmus Stadium lives somewhat in infamy because of a full-on brawl which led to multiple suspensions on both teams, including one to Newfoundlander Rod Snow.
It also opened the door for the South Africans to call up Chester Williams, the winger who went on to capture the imagination of a country that was trying to unify itself after four decades of racist rule.
The South Africans went on to win the tournament and Williams’ role as the lone player of colour on the team is now legendary. Even non-rugby fans may know the story through the 1995 film Invictus, which profiled the efforts of president Nelson Mandela to unify his country behind the national rugby team.
South Africa have long been a rugby power. After the end of apartheid, global rugby’s leadership saw an obvious chance to have their sport play a role in helping South Africa move into a new era; they also, of course, saw a chance to hit a home run in terms of fan interest.
Canada came into the 1995 tournament as the eighth-seeded team, having impressed everyone in their run to the quarter-finals in the 1991 tournament. But, former captain Gareth Rees notes, they were only seeded because in ’91, the South Africans were still banned from international sport because of the country’s racist governance.
“We were a good group,” Rees, who is in Japan as Canada’s media manager, said of his team.
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“I think our ball-in-play numbers at the time was the record for the tournament,” he added, referring to the amount of time there was actually on-going game action, as opposed to when the clock was ticking down while the teams took their time before putting the ball into the scrum or throwing it into a lineout.
Instead of kicking their penalties to touch to set up lineouts, as teams usually do, the Canadians would hoist high kicks and chase them down, hoping to put pressure on the opposition, who weren’t programmed to expect such an unconventional approach.
“We had to find our own way of getting it done and that was something we recognized,” Rees said. “Let’s use our athleticism, it was as simple as that.”
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The unorthodox style of play frustrated the South Africans. Add in the fact that the South Africans were known to be a dirty team, while the Canadians were hard, uncompromising tacklers, an outburst of violence was perhaps inevitable.
With the home team leading 20-0 in the second half, young Canadian winger Winston Stanley, who would go on to have a fine career, got involved with South African winger Pieter Hendriks in a tussle. Canadian fullback Scott Stewart came flying in to defend his teammate and the brawl was on. The encounters included Snow, Canada’s prop, squaring off with 6-5, 250-pound South African lock Hannes Strydom, who ended up with a cut over his eye.
After restoring order, Irish referee David McHugh ejected Snow, South African hooker James Dalton and, to his own surprise, Rees.
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Rees thought McHugh had called him over as the team’s representative, so the look of shock on his face still stands out to this day.
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Tournament officials would later suspend Dalton and Snow, plus Stewart and Hendriks, for their roles in the fracas, opening the door for Williams, recovered from a pre-tournament hamstring injury, to be restored to the South African lineup for the quarter finals.
Ironically, Snow would stay on in Port Elizabeth to play for the Eastern Province Elephants in the Currie Cup, South Africa’s top rugby tournament. That marked the first professional contract for Snow, who would really make his mark as a pro in Wales, where he went the following year.
Today’s match will almost certainly have none of the same fireworks as 24 years ago. The South Africans are bound for the quarter-finals and there are plenty of faces in their lineup who are looking to impress and thereby force their way into consideration for the hoped-for march to the final, while the Canadians, who are starting very close to their first-choice lineup, are just hoping to survive before taking on Namibia in their final match this coming weekend.