Referee Paul Williams talks to Faf de Klerk (Getty)
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber would not blame New Zealand referee Paul Williams following his side’s disappointing 25-17 loss to Australia in Adelaide on Saturday.
The defeat, which came after one of the worst performances by the Boks in recent memory, significantly dents their chances of winning the 2022 Rugby Championship.
The Boks were flat, error-prone, weak defensively and unable to capitalise on numerous try-scoring opportunities.
As poor as the Boks were on the day, they were not helped by the officiating.
Williams’ decision to yellow card Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk for brushing his fingers in the face of opposite number Nic White left South African fans furious, while another controversial moment came when Marika Koroibete smashed Makazole Mapimpi into touch as the Bok wing was lunging towards the try line.
Replays suggested that Koroibete had not used any arms in what could have been an illegal tackle, but Williams was satisfied and play continued.
“We can only look at ourselves. We can’t control anything other than what we can control,” said Nienaber when probed on the refereeing.
When asked specifically about the De Klerk yellow card, the coach again kept his distance.
“I’m going to try stay clear of that. It is what it is,” said Nienaber.
“The referee has made a decision and we’ve got to live by it.
“I thought they capitalised nicely on it, and it’s a tough one when you lose a No 9, especially on defence. Defensively, looking back, I think we could have controlled it better.
“If it’s a yellow card, it’s a yellow card. I thought we could have handled it better.”
Nienaber also raised no issues with the Koroibete tackle.
“It showed their desperation, not just from him, but there were a couple on their try line. A lot of credit has to go to the Wallabies in terms of how they defended,” he said.
Siya Kolisi, too, would not comment on Williams.
“We don’t comment on the referee’s decisions. That’s his job and we worry about what we can control,” said the skipper.