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Rugby World Cup: Gregor Townsend bemoans refereeing ‘inconsistencies’ after Scotland bested by Boks

Rugby World Cup: Gregor Townsend bemoans refereeing ‘inconsistencies’ after Scotland bested by Boks

Scotland boss Gregor Townsend admitted being left frustrated that Jesse Kriel did not receive any kind of card for a head-to-head tackle on Jack Dempsey.

South Africa centre Kriel banged heads with Scotland’s back-row forward in the opening exchanges of the Boks’ 18-3 win in Marseille on Sunday. The incident was similar to Tom Curry’s red card in England’s win over Argentina on Saturday night, but on Sunday no action was taken by the officials.

Townsend saw the inconsistency but was also frustrated by Scotland blowing two fine attacking chances to slip to an opening defeat.

“There are still inconsistencies in seeing these things, we are frustrated by that,” said Townsend. “But we are more frustrated by our own performance. I saw it from two screens away, it did look like it was a head-on-head collision and I was expecting the TMO to come in and make the referee aware of that.

“We have to give credit to South Africa for putting us under pressure, and we just couldn’t execute under it . We pride ourselves on taking those opportunities, so we’ve got to be better.”

Scotland must now wait until September 24 for their next match, against Tonga. Captain Jamie Ritchie admitted Scotland are already in do-or-die territory, with Romania and Ireland also in their pool.

“We can’t afford any slip-ups now, and we know that,” said Ritchie. “The pressure is on now and we have to perform in two weeks’ time.”

No punishment: Jesse Kriel was not carded for a head-to-head tackle on Jack Dempsey (Getty Images)
No punishment: Jesse Kriel was not carded for a head-to-head tackle on Jack Dempsey (Getty Images)

South Africa launched their trophy defence with a punishing victory, thanks to tries from Pieter-Steph Du Toit and Kurt-Lee Arendse.

The Springbok coaches were seen holding up a light shining various colours to signal to the pitch, but head coach Jacques Nienaber insisted the messages were not tactical. South Africa’s coaches could be in hot water with World Rugby should they be relaying tactical plans to their players, but Nienaber insisted the communication is on injury status.

Asked if the traffic-light system is to tell players what decisions to make, Nienaber said: “No, it’s red if it’s a serious injury and you must consider a substitution, amber is ‘let’s give this guy five or 10 minutes’ and green ‘it’s okay’. The sound [inside the ground] is phenomenal, so you can’t hear people.”

Manie Libbok missed three shots at goal but conjured a stunning no-look crossfield kick to send Arendse home for a try to grace any highlights reel.

Asked if the missed penalties are a concern, after Faf De Klerk took over kicking duties, Nienaber replied: “Not if he wins man of the match.”

Captain Siya Kolisi then mounted a staunch defence of South Africa’s fly-half. “This question about missing kicks gets asked a lot, but we play as a team,” he said. “Sometimes you are not good at one thing on the day, and then others step up.”