Highlight: Springbok’s head coach Jack Nenber has opened up about his team’s good-cop and bad-cop approach when dealing with referees on the field.
That approach was evident at the 2019 World Cup – when captain Siamanda Kolesi was tasked with staying on the good side of the referees, while No. 8 Duane Vermeulen was tasked with making tough decisions on the pitch.
The whole purpose of this approach, Nienber said, is to help the team engage with those responsible more constructively.
“I am an Afrikaans boy from Bloemfontein and it is not normal for me to challenge authority or question authority,” said Nyenber.
“In our environment, we had to find a way to address it. In the English language environment, they would wonder and ask.
“As an Afrikaans man, it is about being seen and not heard. That was a common thing, your father will tell you on Sunday [to be seen, not heard].
“There is a hierarchy.
“For an African man to speak to a referee is strange. He is in a position of authority, so it was just a matter of putting a man in a role.”
“If you’re the bad cop, I’m the guy who’s going to question things, so I was about to put on a suit. I’ll be the bad cop for today or I’ll be the cheerleader today. You’re an actor; you play a role.”
“If when things break down it doesn’t go well, you have to ask [questions] You must find a solution. That’s what a bad cop does.”
“People might think we’re trying to manipulate the referee and that’s not the case,” Nyenber added.
“It’s about getting some players to challenge authority and ask questions.”
Bok’s coach added that this approach was not just for referees but for their teammates as well.
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“A good cop is someone who cheers up a teammate after they’ve done something good, like a great clean or a good tackle. It’s not just about the referees,” said the coach.
Nienber said they would not formulate game plans based on the identity of the referee for each match in the British and Irish Lions Series.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Nick Perry (Australia), Ben O’Keefe (New Zealand) and Mathieu Raynal (France) have been appointed to run the auditions for that series.
“It won’t affect the way we play or plan. Obviously every coach is going to look at the referees’ attitudes. Some referees have certain directions, and we didn’t even look at theirs,” Nyenber added.