South Africa's Cobus Reinach scores a try. Picture: REUTERS / REBECCA NADEN
South Africa's Cobus Reinach scores a try. Picture: REUTERS / REBECCA NADEN

Kobe — Bok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach was blissfully unaware he had rewritten the Rugby World Cup (RWC) record books by the time he walked off the field after the team’s 66-7 win over Canada on Tuesday.

“No‚ not at all until I came off the pitch. I was just happy with the tries‚” said Reinach, who completed the fastest RWC hat-trick in the game. By the 22nd minute, he had crossed the tryline three times to strike off the record books Wallaby Chris Latham’s hat-trick that came inside 25 minutes against Namibia in 2003.

With his hat-trick coming so early, he would have been forgiven for envisaging another visit to the Canadians’ in-goal area.

“I was trying to get my heart rate down, so I wasn’t counting on anything. I was just trying to get my breath and get back playing‚” Reinach said.

The try-scoring bounty came as a slight surprise to the player, who stressed he just wants to perform the basics well. He tried to divert attention from his performance.

“If you look at the team we put out, stuff will happen on the field. People have their circus tricks. I just focused on what I need to do and do it well‚” he said.

“We went into the game to play the way we want to play going forward. We delivered that quite well in the first half. I think we let it slip a bit. The ball went down a few times and we took the opportunities we had.”

He did‚ however‚ take some lessons from the training field into battle. His first try was a scintillating long-range effort in which he scythed through a gap‚ chipped and splendidly gathered, tapping into a gene pool well endowed with speed.

“At training it happened once or twice where taking the outside gap didn’t work‚” he explained his thought process in the moment. “So I tried the chip instead.”

Reinach, who has had little game time‚ was withdrawn from the action in the 51st minute‚ making way for Herschel Jantjies.

“I’m happy with how the game went. The whole team played unbelievably well‚” he said about his performance.

The timing of his substitution is a clear indication coach Rassie Erasmus’s scrumhalf pecking order remains intact: Faf de Klerk‚ Jantjies‚ then Reinach.

“Everyone knows he’s an X-factor player‚” said Erasmus. “I knew his dad well and we all know when he sniffs an opportunity and space he’s got exceptional speed. He is a guy who didn’t get a lot of game time so far with us‚ especially since I’ve been the coach.

“In the build-up to the RWC he wasn’t part of the squad in the Rugby Championships. He is opportunistic.

“We are fortunate to have three scrumhalves of quality. We have spread the workload pretty nicely now among them. Luckily we have no injuries.”

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