Matt Proudfoot during the South African national rugby team media conference at Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel on September 23, 2019 in Urayasu, Japan. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/STEVE HAAG
Matt Proudfoot during the South African national rugby team media conference at Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel on September 23, 2019 in Urayasu, Japan. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/STEVE HAAG

Omaezaki — The Springboks have won 10 of their 13 Tests with Wayne Barnes as the man with the whistle, a 77% win record that is a more than decent return in anyone’s book.

By way of comparison with Nigel Owens in charge 11 of the Boks’ 18 Tests ended in victory. With Jérôme Garcès as the man in the middle‚ the Boks have won just four of their 14 Tests.

Clearly‚ as they excel under some referees‚ they struggle with others‚ so you would think with Barnes as the 31st man on the pitch in their crunch Rugby World Cup pool B match against Italy on Friday they would at least feel a small degree of comfort.

“I don’t think we even think about that‚” said assistant coach Matt Proudfoot, pouring cold water on that theory.

“Nothing is left to chance in this team. We’ve got specific plans. So much is going on behind the scenes. Just because we have a decent record with the guy means nothing.

“We will have a specific plan with how we deal with Wayne. Communicate with him about what he is looking for. How we get information from him. That is the important part‚ not his record.”

It is Proudfoot’s contention that the Boks have their favourable record with Barnes in charge because of the quality of the official. By the same logic, Garcès would be at the other end of the scale.

“We have a good record with him because he is a good referee. He makes good decisions. He is a clear communicator. When a referee is like that you have a good record with him because you can adapt. He is the CEO‚ the boss‚ so we have to meet what he wants from the game‚” said Proudfoot.

While the Wallabies have been left to lament the influence of Romain Poite and his fellow match officials after their defeat to Wales‚ Proudfoot was happy to have a northern hemisphere official in a match against a Six Nations’ combatant.

“It is nice that it comes with a northern hemisphere flavour‚” Proudfoot said. “Wayne Barnes is a great communicator. It’s going to be a real good contest. He is a sharp referee‚ and is well respected worldwide.”

The forwards coach pointed to Barnes’ wait-and-see attitude at the breakdown.

“He likes a bit of a challenge at the breakdown. Every referee has their own idiosyncrasy about how he sees the challenge‚ and that’s fine. We accept that as long as it is the same for both teams. Players adapt to that very quickly. As long as he is communicating you see a picture.

“If you watched the last game carefully you would have heard Francois [Louw] talking to the referee. That is the adaptation we are looking for. I thought we did that well.”

Barnes will be assistant referee in Wednesday’s clash between France and the US in Fukuoka.

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