1. What a "trained front row" really is.
In the interests of safety, you can't have players playing in the front row if they are not sufficiently battle hardened. So teams have to name a minimum number of front row players. International teams, which are now a whopping 23 players each, have six front row forwards (FRFs).
That's fair enough.
However, even with that many FRFs, somehow there were three uncontested scrums in the game between the Springboks and the All Blacks. This is because both South African tighthead props were off the field, and the laws state that a player is not just a specialist front row forward, but a specialist loosehead, tighthead, or hooker. Whether the two props on the field were willing and capable of playing in the tight didn't matter. Neither name was next to "tighthead prop" on the scoresheet, and so uncontested scrums happened.
The Springboks, with their dominant scrum, probably felt pretty pissed off by this when the All Blacks were putting the ball in, five out from their own line, and the Boks couldn't even try to monster them.
2. Argentina has the best anthem, but isn't very good at other anthems.
For the second year in a row, the singing of Advance Australia Fair was a shambles. The singer got the words wrong, the band wasn't quite sure what the tempo was, and the only thing that saved it was the Wallabies. They belted the song out with all the energy of men who have taken Forrest Gump's immortal advice "If you can't sing good, sing loud." They were very loud.
Advice to whoever organises anthems - when the players are the best singers, you’re doing something very very wrong.
3. Don’t piss off Michael Hooper.
For those campaigning to “Bring back the Biff”* in rugby union, check this action out.
It’s a little bit blink and you’ll miss it, but Hooper passes the ball, Argentine first-five Nicolas Sanchez holds him back, and instead of flailing wildly at the referee, Hooper straight up lays the bastard out. It’s kind of like a train crash - equal parts impressive and horrifying. Let’s hope SANZAR sees the impressive part, or Hooper could be out of the match against the All Blacks in Sydney.
*If my old notebooks are any indication, The Biff has been missing for at least 12 years, and maybe people should stop trying to bring it back.
4. Jérôme Garcès - harsh but fair?
French Ref Jérôme Garcès had a good game, but I was left wondering how many of his English mistakes are actually mistakes.
Addressing Owen Franks, after Franks had shoulder-barged his way into a ruck, Garcès explained the penalty with “You do not use arms, you use always your shoulder.”
Either Garcès has a bit of confusion between the words “always” and “only”; or he’s seen some of Franks’s other dubious tackles and is offering tough coaching advice.
5. All games should be played at Ellis Park.
I don’t know what it is about Jo’burg that produces such spectacular rugby games, but I certainly wish we could bottle it.
Perhaps it’s the intense atmosphere caused by the crowd. Perhaps it’s the thinner atmosphere caused by the altitude. Perhaps it’s just because of the ongoing epic rivalry between two of the best teams in the world.
Whatever it is, the last three Springboks versus All Blacks matches have been played there, and they’ve all been amazing. I move we transfer all the games there so we never have to watch boring rugby again.
That’s how it works, right?
BONUS: 6. Quade Cooper shouldn't use twitter without adult supervision.
It's okay Quade, at least you didn't call anyone a poof.