Western Province may have missed out on a bonus point against the Boland Cavaliers in the Wellington mud on Saturday, but a spot of administrative fumbling and some clever gamesmanship very nearly gave them a telling advantage over their semifinal rivals.
rugby365.com reported on Saturday that a “slip of the finger” from the South African Rugby Union (SARU) administrative machine caused the Boland v WP tie to be erroneously switched from Wellington to Newlands on Friday, before some vociferous protest from other unions caused the tie to be switched back to its original venue, writes Phil Coetzer.
The match went ahead, and in very limiting conditions, WP failed to score a fourth try, which would have given them the bonus point needed to ease their passage into the semifinals.
Cheetahs manager Helgard Müller told rugby365.com of his astonishment when he first learned that the tie was supposedly moved to become, in effect, a Province home game.
“When I saw that the tie was moved to Newlands, I though it must be an April Fool’s joke. But then I double checked my calendar and saw it was almost October,” the jovial Müller said tongue-in-cheek.
“One is not 100 percent certain about what actually happened there, but to be honest, I can’t imagine who would come up with such an audacious plan.
“We [Cheetahs management] talked about it, and one of the reasons we were upset was that the curtainraisers that were meant to be played before the Lions and WP games, were moved to another venue.
“However, when we [Cheetahs] played there [in similar poor conditions], the curtainraisers were not moved.”
Müller’s point is that moving the curtainraisers to another venue gave the Lions and WP a certain advantage that the Cheetahs did not have, as it had the effect of saving the pitch from becoming a muddy mess before the main match.
It is also interesting to note that the Cheetahs could only scrape a 15-10 win over Boland at Wellington back in the beginning of August, following many days of driving rain on the poorly drained pitch.
However, all will be forgotten if the Cheetahs qualify for the Currie Cup semifinals on Saturday.Tweet