Autumn Nations Series: Jacques Nienaber proud of his Springboks side’s efforts in painful loss to France

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber admits their narrow 30-26 loss in a chaotic game was tough to take given the impressive efforts of his side.

The Marseille Test had everything with red cards for both teams, and the Springboks finished the game with 13 men after Deon Fourie’s yellow card.

Chaotic Test

The Springboks played well, considering Pieter-Steph du Toit was given his marching orders after 12 minutes for a dangerous cleanout, keeping themselves in the game before France skipper Antoine Dupont was sent off for taking Cheslin Kolbe out in the air.

The game truly had it all, and the Springboks showed impressive character and fight, but in the end, the vociferous Marseille crowd dragged the French side over the line in what was a Test match for the ages.

Nienaber credited his players for their efforts, including their goal-kickers, who had improved performance off the kicking tee.

“It hurts a lot because the players showed a lot of attitude and put in a great effort and we certainly can’t fault that,” said Nienaber.

“The effort the players delivered was extraordinary, and the in the end goal kicks proved to be difference on the scoreboard.

“The reality is that we lost by four points against the second-ranked team in the world at home and by three points against the top ranked team. We are facing Ireland in the pool stages of the World Cup and we could face France or New Zealand in the quarter-final, so we have to keep working hard as a team.”

Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi praised his team’s character and commitment whilst also giving France credit for their performance on the night.

“We kept on working for one another after the red card and we are proud of that It’s horrible to lose and especially like that. The guys played well and they kept on fighting, but France played a little better,” Kolisi said.

“They are a great side and they showed it by being unbeaten in 12 games. They have a strong pack and backs that can take the opportunities, and they had a great atmosphere behind them in the match.”

France favourites for World Cup

Nienaber sees France as one of the favourites for next year’s World Cup, particularly given their 12-match win streak.

“They (France) are certainly close to one of the favourites,” said Nienaber.

“The last game they lost was against Australia in 2021 and they have won 12 on the trot now. I don’t think there is any other team that has come close to that streak recently.

“That said, one could see by Italy’s win (against Australia earlier on Saturday) that there is a lot of competition in world rugby at the moment.”

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