29 October 2019 00:32
A former England international referee claims Warren Gatland's Wales were robbed of a place in the Rugby World Cup final by French official Jerome Garces and says Nigel Owens must now be given the showpiece game. Angry Springboks fans petitioned World Rugby chief Brett Gosper last week calling for Garces to be taken off their semi-final clash with the Six Nations champions, citing South Africa's abysmal record of four wins from 14 Tests with the 46-year-old officiating. And the close friend of top England official Wayne Barnes, even questioned whether the kicking borefest, that blighted the semi-final was also down to Garces, given his refereeing of the breakdown. A late Handre Pollard penalty was the difference as the Springboks set up a Rugby World Cup final meeting with England next Saturday. While questioning that penalty awarded by Garces for players infringing at a South African driving maul, Debney believed Wales should have been awarded a eminently kickable three-pointer when skipper Alun Wyn Jones was adjudged to be holding on to the ball.
Writing his Rugby World Cup column in the Times, Debney said: "He penalised Wales with 10 minutes to go. "Garces should have penalised South Africa as Franco Mostert did not move away and prevented Elliot Dee from clearing out Francois Louw. "Just a few minutes later, he penalised Wales either for coming in from the side at a maul or collapsing it, but he had been letting this sort of thing go all game. "He changed the way he refereed in the final 10 minutes and contributed to South Africa winning it, which is not what a referee should do." Others, including former Wales international Andrew Coombs, have suggested Garces' apparent decision to penalise Rhys Carre for collapsing that crucial maul for the fateful penalty was the wrong one, with the Wales player accidentally falling over after tripping over a stay South African body. And given Garces' performance on Sunday, Debney believes there's only one referee to take charge of Saturday's final between England and the Springboks - Welshman Nigel Owens.
Wales sensed they had to go for broke and, after boldly opting for a scrum rather than a penalty in front of the posts against their hulking opponents, they worked the ball wide for Josh Adams to dive over for a converted try that made it 16-16. That set up a captivating final 10 minutes in which Wales drove forward in desperate search of the score that would keep alive their hopes of ending Warren Gatland's reign with the ultimate prize in rugby. But they were denied as Pollard struck a fourth and match-winning penalty in the 76th minute. While South Africa can look forward to a final against England here in Yokohama next Saturday, Gatland's final game as Wales head coach will be the third-place play-off against his native New Zealand in Tokyo on Friday. Heartache has stalked Wales at recent World Cups - Sam Warburton's red card in an agonising 2011 semi-final loss to France, and then an injury-ravaged side's late defeat by South Africa in 2015's quarter-final.
This was against a South Africa side on their way back to claiming a seat at world rugby's top table, a team that ruthlessly seized on any signs of weakness from their opponents to keep Wales still waiting, agonisingly, for a first World Cup final. It was no secret how the Springboks would look to beat Wales, and they lived up to the "kicking fest" Gatland prophesised before the match. It was not pretty - and it might not have worried England head coach Eddie Jones, who was watching in the stands - but this was a brutal reminder that South Africa are once again a force to be reckoned with. Scrum-half Faf de Klerk set the tone with an assault of box-kicks and his half-back partner made the most telling contributions, kicking four penalties, a conversion and making the initial break for Damien de Allende's try South Africa have knocked Wales out of the Rugby World Cup in consecutive tournaments, reaching their third Rugby World Cup final (1995, 2007). That was the first time at the 2019 Rugby World Cup that Handre Pollard had managed a 100% goal kicking rate from the tee. Josh Adams is now the outright top try scorer at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, his haul of six tries is the joint most a player has managed for Wales in an edition of the tournament (Shane Williams 6 in 2007). Wales made 39 kicks from hand in the game, the most they had made in a Rugby World Cup game since 1991 v Argentina (48); South Africa also made 39 kicks, their most since the 2007 final vs England (48). South Africa averaged 4 metres per carry in this match, whilst Wales could only average 1.7 metres per carry. Wales coach Warren Gatland: "We probably gave away too many penalties in our own half and that cost us dearly. South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus: "We have so much respect for Wales and the coach, we thought they might pull it through late on but we had a bit of luck, but they are a class team. Wales: Halfpenny; North, J Davies, Parkes, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; Wyn Jones, Owens, Francis, Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Wainwright, Tipuric, Moriarty. South Africa: Le Roux; Nkosi, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, De Klerk; Mtawarira, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, De Jager, Kolisi (capt), Du Toit, Vermeulen. Replacements: Steyn for le Roux (68), Marx for Mtawarira (47), Kitshoff for Mbonambi (47), Koch for Malherbe (47), Snyman for Etzebeth (52), Mostert for De Jager (57), Louw for Kolisi (68). Watch Scrum V World Cup Special, 20:00 GMT, BBC Two Wales on Sunday, 27 October and later on demand. Wales player ratings vs South Africa: Here's who impressed in the Rugby World Cup 2019 semi-final Wales 16-19 South Africa: The Springboks triumphed in a kick-heavy semi final in Yokohama South Africa's centre Damian De Allende is congratulated by teammates after scoring a try against Wales (AFP via Getty Images) Wales have been knocked out of the Rugby World Cup in Japan by a physical South Africa side in the second semi-final in Yokohama. South Africa, however, were up 6-9 courtesy of Handre Pollard's three penalties to Dan Biggar's two. Damian de Allende decided to run with the ball on the 55th minute, a novel idea rewarded with a try. Alun Wyn Jones opted for a scrum under the posts and running the ball blind, they converted a three on two as Jonathan Davies played in Josh Adams unopposed. A Handre Pollard 75th minute penalty from the sideline on the ten metre line edged the advantage to the Springboks, and Wales had five minutes to come back. They didn't, meaning South Africa booked their place in next week's match against England, and Wales' wait for a final will go on another four years. Was replaced by Rhys Patchell after South Africa's breakthrough try, having missed the tackle on Damian de Allende. Josh Adams of Wales goes over to score his team's first try against South Africa (2019 Getty Images) It was far from a classic but South Africa did enough to book their place in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final with a 19-16 defeat of Wales in Yokohama. Finally, the fullback showed a little courage as he plucked some high ball against Wales veteran Leigh Halfpenny. It was clear that the scrumhalf played his own game, his box kicks were effective and he made a sniping run in the opening minutes. His trademark big run ended Tomas Francis' semi-final match in the 35th minute. Watch: Warren Gatland and Wales reflect on semi final loss