Mapimpi out of World Cup with fractured eye socket, Am confirmed as replacement
Springbok wing Makazole Mapimpi has been ruled out of Rugby World Cup 2023 after a ‘blowout fracture’ to his eye socket in a collision with Tonga’s Augustine Pulu.
The Springboks paid a heavy price for their 49-18 win over Tonga in Marseille on Sunday with the news that wing Makazole Mapimpi has been ruled out of Rugby World Cup 2023.
Mapimpi suffered a “blowout fracture” to his eye socket when Tonga scrumhalf Augustine Pulu made head-to-head contact midway through the first half. Pulu slipped before attempting a tackle on Mapimpi and they clashed heads.
The halfback escaped a yellow card but the incident ended Mapimpi’s tournament. It’s a huge blow for Mapimpi personally and for the Boks in general. It’s the second high-profile injury after hooker Malcolm Marx was injured during training in week two of the tournament.
Centre Lukhanyo Am has been confirmed as replacement as he makes a sensational return after a knee injury ruled him out of initial RWC selection.
“It’s sad that something like that happened. It was an accident. He has a fractured eye socket, a blow-out fracture. His eye is swollen and the cheekbone is also fractured I think. I think he’s out for four to six weeks,” Erasmus said on Monday.
“We will not just miss him as a brilliant rugby player but what he brings to the team. There is a lot of heart, a lot of honesty. He doesn’t say a lot but when he says something everybody listens.
“He trains hard, communicates beautifully on the field whilst he is really quiet off the field. He never moans if he is not selected and helps the young boys who get selected.
“If we get to the final we will definitely fly him back to join the rest of us here. The same with the other guys who got injuries and went back to South Africa. It’s sad but that’s the game of rugby. Those collisions happen.”
The Boks still face elimination if Scotland score an extraordinary win over Ireland in their final Pool B clash on 7 October, but Erasmus preferred to transfer the pressure to Ireland.
If Scotland beats Ireland, and Ireland fail to claim a bonus point, they will be out.
“Basically, as I understand it, if Scotland beat Ireland by more than eight points and Ireland don’t get a bonus point then Ireland is out,” Erasmus said. “We would be first, Scotland second and Ireland out. If Scotland beat Ireland 8-0, Ireland are out.
“That’s how I see it. I was thinking about that a lot last night.
“The other permutation, which is the interesting one, is when all three of us are on 15 points. Then the team with the best net-o points (points difference) first of all goes through.
“If Scotland’s net-o points is the best, then Scotland will go through and we will fall out as Ireland beat us. First it goes to net-o points, then for the second team it is who beat who.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Rugby World Cup 2023
“For that to happen Scotland must score four tries and beat Ireland by more than 20 points and Ireland must get one bonus point somehow.
“There are three or four very interesting permutations. But if I was Scotland I’d just want to beat them by eight points and not even score a try.
“If I was Ireland I’d definitely make sure they beat them. If Ireland finish first on net-o points then we go through as we beat Scotland.”
“With full humbleness, and there is no arrogance saying this, but I’d rather sit here than be Ireland knowing that we’ve been No 1 in the world all the time and Scotland basically just have to beat them by eight points and they are out of the tournament.
“The score could be 22-12 or 22-13 and Ireland are out of the competition if they don’t get a bonus point.
“Of the three teams we are probably the most comfortable sitting here knowing we have got a two-week rest. Look, maybe we have got six months’ rest if the cards don’t fall our way.
“We have got two weeks off where we can analyse all three teams that we can possibly play. I always thought the Ireland-Scotland game was going to be nervy, just like the France-Italy game will be nervy.
“I know everybody writes off Italy and though Italy are not used to playing against southern hemisphere teams they are used to playing against northern hemisphere teams. There are going to be some interesting permutations still in the rest of this World Cup.”
Pollard and Libbok
Erasmus was also happy with the return of Handrè Pollard against Tonga. Pollard kicked four from four from the tee and was targeted on defence but held up strongly.
Manie Libbok also kicked three from three as the two dovetailed well. Does it mean the end of the seven/one split between forwards and backs?
“Unfortunately for Handrè it’s only the one game he has played. Manie had proved himself the way he has played in general play for us,” Erasmus said.
“Handrè made four kicks and Manie three kicks so we kicked seven out of seven. It’s a tough call we will have to make. If we go five-three, maybe both can be in the mix. If we go six-two it’s a possibility, if we go seven-one then things might look a little different.
“Internally, we will only announce the team (if in quarterfinals) next Sunday, then as quick as we can in the Test match week. On Saturday, after the Scotland versus Ireland game we will know exactly who we will play. If we are in first place we play the following Saturday, if second we play the next Sunday so we will have a seven-day turnaround.”
Libbok’s return to form from the tee was welcome.
“I won’t take any credit with that,” Erasmus said. “If somebody helped him it would be ‘Stokke’ (Mzwandile Stick, assistant coach). We know it’s a nice talking point and (kicking) wins games. Yes, it’s true.
“But tries also win games and the way we play is to try and score tries. I really think we have been attacking much better, like the country has asked us to do, and the supporters are always wanting us to be more creative and not just have this kicking game.
“Manie brings that to us. He certainly has worked hard with Handrè and maybe it’s Handrè who gave him a tip or two. I don’t think the shot clock was ever an issue with him and Manie is a very interesting character when it comes to something like that.
“It doesn’t bother him for the rest of his game and that is something special to have. It would be nice to have him on the park for that general play and if he is on song and fantastic with his kicking, but somebody else who can back him up if he does have a bad day.” DM