The Green Gauge: Boks edge ahead

rugby27 March 2023 13:54

Welcome to this week's Green Gauge, the place where we take the pulse of the throbbing rivalry between South African and Irish teams leading up to their must-win Rugby World Cup clash later this year.

And we couldn't have asked for a better week to tinker with the gauge's needle after we introduced the feature to you in a neutral state last week. What we witnessed on Friday and Saturday evening were two riveting matches between Irish and South African teams, leaving us with plenty to talk about.

But first, the news: the Green Gauge needle has moved two clicks in favour of South Africa. So there, that's out of the way. What we'll attempt next is to explain why our fingers itched for the dial in the first place.


On a chilly and blustery night in Dublin, the Stormers brought Leinster's 15-match winning streak to an unceremonious end with a hard-fought 22-22 draw.

It doesn't matter much that Leinster held most of the Ireland players who did duty in the Six Nations on ice - player management is a reality for all teams.

It is a result that will echo through the valleys (and alleys) of European rugby as it took some of the aurae around the RDS Arena away. This is welcome news for everyone that has Champions Cup ambitions.

The Stormers can even feel a little aggrieved by the result as they came hair-breadth close to scoring a match-winning try right at the end. John Dobson and his men continue to make the unthinkable a reality, and the whole country owes them a lot of gratitude if you consider the four numbers atop this year's calendar.


The Bulls' loss to Ulster may have been a downer for fans of the Pretoria-based team, but let's look on the bright side - it was also an irrefutable sign of progress for South African rugby up north.

For much of the match, the Bulls showed that they can mix it with some of Europe's best players in foreign conditions, with a commanding 20-12 halftime lead that had supporters reaching for the celebratory blouwildebees biltong.

Unfortunately, some questionable refereeing decisions played a sizable role in visiting team losing momentum - allowing Ulster the proverbial small finger they needed to grab a full hand of log points. That's rugby for you (and for the neutrals among us, it also makes for more entertaining post-match interviews from Jake White).


As always, it's important to remember that there's still a lot of rugby to be played between now and the World Cup - and things can change quickly in this sport. There is a mighty fine line at the top between hero and zero.

That is not going to spoil our mood, though. We'll worry about that when (and it's a definite when) the needle starts leaning the other way.