Who’s hot and who’s not: Springboks’ homecoming, death threats and paywalls

It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons after the weekend.


Alun Wyn Jones impresses: The Wales and British and Irish Lions legend showed that he still has what it takes to do well at Test level as he delivered an outstanding all-round performance in the colours of the Barbarians against his home nation at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday. Although Wales sealed a 40-26 win, it was not through a lack of effort from the 38-year-old who emptied the tank in his final international appearance. Jones maintained his high standards throughout the encounter, with his efforts rewarded with a well-taken try in the 49th minute, and afterwards, he walked off with the official man-of-the-match award.


The Springboks returned home after winning the Rugby World Cup in France, and the country’s people welcomed them with great enthusiasm. Over the past several days, there have been wild scenes of celebration in South Africa. The team’s arrival at OR Tambo airport on Tuesday sparked the festivities, which carried on over the rest of the week as the four-time champions paraded through East London, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.

England stars for Saracens: A little over a week ago, despite their continued involvement at the Rugby World Cup in France, Sarries’ Red Rose contingent made a big comeback to Premiership action this past weekend, contributing significantly to their team’s 32-17 victory over Leicester Tigers at the StoneX Stadium. After suffering defeats to Bath and Exeter Chiefs to begin their 2023 campaign, Saracens recovered with a victory at Gloucester in Round Three. But with players like Jamie George, Ben Earl, Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell, and Billy Vunipola all back in action, Sarries were nearly back to full strength and assisted their team to a well-earned victory.

Tyrone Green’s finish: During his team’s dominating 40-12 victory over the Newcastle Falcons at Twickenham Stoop on Saturday, the Harlequins flyer grabbed attention with an early contender for Try of the Season. Quins dominated play for extended stretches, as the score indicates, but the 25-year-old made a lasting impression on the game in the 74th minute when he timed a run to collect a cross-field kick from Marcus Smith and then launched a magnificent diving save. Even though he still had work to do, Green did great to stay on the pitch and scored an amazing goal by dotting down.

Connacht keeps winning: The Irish province defeated Ulster 22–20 at the Sportsground on Saturday, extending their stellar start to the 2023–24 United Rugby Championship (URC) season. After dominating the opening exchanges and taking a 20-3 lead by the 42nd minute, Pete Wilkins’ team had to work hard to win. Nevertheless, Cathal Ford, Tom Farrell, and Diarmuid Kilgallen’s second-half tries helped Connacht mount an incredible comeback and secure the victory. Connacht now sits atop the table, one point ahead of Munster, the reigning champions, after winning the URC three times in a row.


The ongoing Eddie Jones saga: The former Australian head coach appeared to be losing his mind as he attempted to justify leaving out seasoned players from his squad for the most recent Rugby World Cup, including fly-half tandem Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley and former Wallabies captain and back-row Michael Hooper. During an interview with Sydney Morning Herald reporter Peter FitzSimons, a former Wallaby, Jones stated that the three seasoned players weren’t the best role models for the team during the world cup in France. Hooper chose not to reply to Jones’ jab, but Cooper retaliated by stating that he believes success and victory come from preparation.

Concern about Dan Biggar’s injury: We sincerely hope the former Wales fly-half recovers quickly after pulling up while trying to convert. Biggar was playing for Toulon in the Top 14 on the day his former teammates Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, and Leigh Halfpenny bid farewell to the Welsh audience. After only ten minutes, he had already established a strong start when Charles Ollivon, a France international, grabbed his cross-field pass and finished it. He did, however, line up to take the extras, but as he got closer to the ball, he grabbed his back and collapsed on the ground in excruciating pain. I hope it’s not as bad as it seems and he can get back on the field soon.


Wayne Barnes death threats: What is wrong with people? Unfortunately, online abuse is becoming more and increasingly frequent, and after the Rugby World Cup final, the English referee was targeted with death threats once more. This is true even though the match official and the other members of his crew played excellently under extremely difficult conditions. Refereeing the championship game was not an easy task, but he performed a great job and is not deserving of the criticism coming from people in New Zealand. It appeared that the sole offense was that these folks felt compelled to assign blame since the conflict was so intense. Since then, Barnes has declared his retirement from the game and stated that he wants to help stop online bullying, both of which we wholeheartedly endorse.

Lions behind paywall: Given their long-standing relationship with the tour, it was perhaps inevitable that Sky Sports would acquire the rights, but it is nonetheless disheartening that the tour will not be available on terrestrial television in the United Kingdom. The Lions are the ultimate representation of the Home Nations, second only to the Rugby World Cup as the source of unforgettable memories. The highlights of the Test were broadcast on free-to-air Channel Four in 2021, but ideally the entire nation would have access to it as well.


Api Ratuniyarawa absence: Being called up to the Barbarians squad is usually a fond memory, but the veteran The Fijian second rower will quickly want to forget his time spent with the renowned squad. Ratuniyarawa appeared in court a few hours before the Baa-baas game against Wales on an accusation of sexual assault. The 37-year-old is accused of three incidences that allegedly happened at a Cardiff bar when he was out with other Barbarians players. On the day of play, Ratuniyarawa appeared in court and was removed from the Barbarians’ roster. Aaron Shingler, a player for Wales, was named as a replacement. He was freed on bond and is scheduled to appear on December 4 at Cardiff Crown Court.


ICYMI: Goodbye to these four beloved Springboks?

Four senior Springboks likely featured in their final Rugby World Cup when South Africa beat great rivals, New Zealand’s All Blacks.

Trevor Nyakane Springboks Rugby World Cup

The prop of South Africa After South Africa defeated New Zealand in the France 2023 Rugby World Cup Final at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris, on October 28, 2023, Trevor Nyakane (R) is shown holding the Web Ellis Cup with his family. (Image courtesy of Miguel Medina/AFP)

With a valiant performance, the Springboks defeated the All Blacks to win their fourth Rugby World Cup. It’s possible that we won’t see these four stars at the tournament again, but what an adventure it has been.


Deon Fourie (37), Duane Vermeulen (37), Trevor Nyakane (34) and Willie le Roux (34) were the only players in South Africa’s Rugby World Cup squad born in the 80s. Nobody will ever forget Vermeulen’s virtuoso display in Yokohama four years ago when he won Man of the Match against England in the final. Utility bomb squad member Fourie rolled back the years in Paris to win rugby’s greatest prize, proving to be an invaluable impact option. Similarly, it’s difficult to see Trevor Nyakane or Willie le Roux making a World Cup squad in four years.


Outside of the Golden Oldies, this Springboks World Cup-winning team was brimming with experience. The “wrong” side of thirty includes, among others, Bongi Mbinambi, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Faf de Klerk, and Kwagga Smith. Still, none of them seem to be planning to hang up their boots just yet, and most of them have at least one more World Cup left in them.



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