South Africa coach makes "match-fixing" comment ahead of Ireland ...

2 Oct 2023

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber made a bizarre match-fixing comment when discussing Ireland's Rugby World Cup clash with Scotland.

Ireland vs Scotland - Figure 1
Photo Irish Mirror

Defending champions South Africa saw off Tonga 49-18 to pick up a bonus-point win in Marseille on Sunday night which moved them temporarily top of Pool B.

Ireland could have been sure of a quarter-final place before their final pool match against Scotland had the Springboks failed to beat Tonga, who had lost both previous games.

READ MORE: Ireland coaching staff react to Scotland's big win over Romania ahead of Rugby World Cup clash

Andy Farrell’s men, though, can guarantee top spot if they avoid defeat by Scotland, whose own qualification hopes are slim.

But there is still a scenario that would see the Sprinboks eliminated and both Ireland and Scotland advancing to the last eight.

This would happen if Scotland top the group on points difference, and Ireland go through in second due to beating South Africa earlier in the tournament.

Speaking about the permutations ahead of the final weekend of Pool games, Nienaber said: "I think between ourselves, Ireland and Scotland, everybody can still miss out on the quarter-finals, every single team, all three of those teams, but all three can also still make it so the Pool will only be decided on Saturday.

"Could I believe in a scenario that they will decide 'do we want to get this amount of points and then get South Africa out of the way?' That would probably be match-fixing, I would say. I hope not.

"Rugby is clean. We wear those t-shirts so hopefully not because that would be extremely disappointing."

Tonga got their first points on the board at the Stade Velodrome through an early penalty from William Havili.

But South Africa were soon in front when scrum-half Cobus Reinach tapped up a quick penalty before sprinting over in the corner.

The Springboks further extended their lead in the 20th minute when the ball bounced off Vincent Koch’s shoulder and straight to Canan Moodie, who darted under the posts.

Makazole Mapimpi went off for a head-injury assessment after being caught by Augustine Pulu as they ducked into a tackle. English referee Luke Pearce and the TMO agreed it was not a yellow-card offense by the Tongan, who was down on his knees at point of contact.

Andre Esterhuizen of South Africa is tackled during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Pool B match between South Africa and Tonga (Image: David Rogers/Getty Images)

South Africa, edged out 13-8 by Ireland at the Stade de France, scored again through Deon Fourie on the half-hour mark following a driving maul from a lineout before Tonga had a try on the board when captain Ben Tameifuna powered over to reduce the deficit to 21-8 at half-time.

The Springboks secured a bonus-point try early in the second half when replacement Jesse Kriel pushed over and the TMO then ruled against a yellow card to Eben Etzebeth for a collision with Tonga full-back Salesi Piutau.

Tonga responded again as winger Fine Inisi touched down in the corner, only for Willie Le Roux to go over down the left and South Africa replacement Marco van Staden added another try following a well-worked swift counter.

Coventry fly-half Pat Pellegrini produced a memorable moment as he chased down his own kick to score under the posts before Kwagga Smith dived over for South Africa’s seventh try in added time.

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