Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has denounced the unfavorable climate which preceded his team’s crucial meeting against Argentina on Saturday in Buenos Aires, during the 5th day of the Rugby Championship, amid “disturbing” media allegations.
Nienaber, who was speaking in an online press conference on Saturday after his team’s 36-20 win, said his group had to face a new controversy just hours before the kick-off. mail.
The South African Rugby Union issued a statement ahead of the start of the game explaining that “unsubstantiated allegations of Springbok players testing positive for recreational drugs were circulating among some media outlets”.
According to a specialized South African website, the federation threatened to file a complaint against the Afrikaans-language weekly Rapport, which was preparing, according to the site, to publish an “explosive” article. But nothing of the sort appeared in the edition of Rapport on Sunday.
Nienaber expressed concern about the timing of these allegations.
“As far as I’m concerned, it was quite disturbing, especially the timing – five hours before a test match which was like the semi-final” of the tournament, he denounced.
On September 11, Rapport revealed an alleged relationship between scrum-half Elton Jantjies and the team’s dietician, leading to their hasty return to South Africa from Argentina.
“I am literally amazed that such allegations can be made against this team. I believe their timing was knowingly premeditated,” Nienaber charged, referring to the presumed positive tests.
The coach added that all international players undergo regular doping controls and cannot afford to take illegal substances.
“We are tested regularly. Sometimes up to three times a week in South Africa. There have been no positive tests all this year,” he said.
“It’s been a tough week,” conceded Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
“We players obviously read a little bit of what everyone writes and it’s hard. Some players can live with it, for others it’s more difficult,” he explained.
But, he added, “we want to win this title, despite everything that is happening around us”.
By pocketing an offensive bonus point in the dying moments of the match against Argentina, South Africa climbed to first place in the competition with 14 points, tied with New Zealand.
There is one game left for the four teams in the running (South Africa, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand) to decide. On September 24, the Australians will challenge the All Blacks at home while South Africa host the Argentines.