Jacques Nienaber oozed pride for his team after collecting a second straight win over Argentina, adding South Africa “would love to” to host the remaining Rugby Championship fixtures
The future of the 2021 Rugby Championship is uncertain as the tournament breaks for at least two weeks, which leaders South Africa will use to take stock after an incredibly busy period.
And coach Jacques Nienaber didn’t attempt to hide his pride after seeing his team move to the Rugby Championship summit—at least temporarily—following their second straight win over the Pumas.
South Africa ran in two second-half tries to clinch a fourth Test win in their last four outings, inspiring Nienaber to praise his squad for weathering such a rough schedule so successfully.
“I’m unbelievably proud of the squad of players,” he told reporters after Saturday’s win at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“This was a massive test match for us…not bigger than a World Cup or a British and Irish Lions series match, but it was huge for us internally.
“If you take the perspective of the South Africa ‘A’ match against the Lions and then three Test matches against them and then two really tough Tests against Argentina, it was six Test matches in a row and at the end of it I can just say well done to the guys.
“The players deserve all the credit, it’s them sacrificing themselves for their country and their team. I’m massively privileged to work with people like that.”
The current world champions suffered a 22-17 defeat against the Lions in their tour opener on July 24 but came from behind to win the series.
Rugby Australia has proposed for the rescheduled Bledisloe III Test to now take place on September 4, with the hosts seeking compensation from New Zealand if they cancel again.
South Africa Rugby has already declared it’s eager to host the remaining Rugby Championship games, a sentiment echoed by Nienaber, who added: “We would love to host, it would be good for the country.
“We have showed that in a pandemic we can host. We have the protocols in place. But wherever it is the safest, and where we can get continuity in the tournament, we will play. We will play anywhere.”
The match attendance ban in South Africa works against their hopes of hosting, however, considering the Optus Stadium in Perth had sold out its 60,000-seat capacity for August 28.
Rugby Australia will hope to fill the seats once again if the third Bledisloe Test can be reorganised for September 4, while Europe has been touted as another potential destination to host games.
One aspect in which South Africa haven’t been tested during this busy summer run is their road form, with the Lions and Pumas each coming up short when visiting the Springboks.
The world’s top-ranked team is sure to encounter a tougher examination if they do face the All Blacks in New Zealand, where Australia recently suffered back-to-back Bledisloe defeats.