South Africa came up with a unique way to try and receive favourable decisions from referee Jerome Garces during their Rugby World Cup triumph last year – by complimenting him on his physique.
The Springboks produced an emphatic display to easily overcome England 32-12 in the final in Yokohama – their third World Cup triumph and first since 2007.
And following their historic World Cup victory in Japan, a new book – called ‘Miracle Men’ – written by Lloyd Burnard has looked at their path to greatness.
The book takes an in-depth look into how Rassie Erasmus launched extensive research into the mannerisms of the world’s leading referees in a bid to get the rub of the green in Japan.
Erasmus undertook the research following South Africa’s agonising 12-11 defeat to England in November 2018, when Owen Farrell was controversially not punished for a high tackle at the death.
South Africa would then get their sweet revenge over England in the World Cup final – in which Frenchman Garces was tasked with officiating.
‘The research included analysis on how the referees blew games of rugby, from scrummaging to the dark arts at the breakdown and the offside line. But it went much deeper than that,’ Burnard wrote in his book – in an excerpt published by SA Rugby Magazine.
‘The level of detail in the refereeing reports included personality traits, all with the hope of finding an edge.
‘The Springboks would role play at team meetings and at training sessions, practising what they would say to the match officials with the research in mind.
‘The report compiled on Garces, for example, revealed that he responded well to being complimented on his physical appearance.
‘If the match was fast-paced, the Boks would make a point of praising Garces on his condition and his ability to keep up with the players, hoping to rub him up the right way.’
The book also explains how South Africa would give individual players different roles in terms of interacting with Garces.
Duane Vermeulen, who starred against England in the final, would be the one to raise concerns while skipper Siya Kolisi would opt for the respectful approach to Garces.
Other methods to try and get favourable decisions included South Africa’s players bending down to tie up their laces or resting their hands on their knees so officials would feel ‘more powerful or more in control’.