Munster shock Bulls as Goosen sees red

rugby20 April 2024 17:40
By:Brenden Nel

A red card to Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen cost his team their 21-game unbeaten record at Loftus Versfeld against overseas opposition, as defending Vodacom United Rugby Championship champions Munster won a tense and brutal contest 27-22 on Saturday night.

It was a harsh moment when in the 53rd minute, Goosen rushed Niall Scannell behind the breakdown and hit him in an awkward and clumsy challenge, with the ball spilling forward and Canan Moodie pouncing to run in for a try.

But the television replays showed that Goosen was upright and there was head contact, albeit accidental, and that warranted a red card.

It was a harsh, and somewhat perplexing decision, although understandable in these strange days of head contact foul play, as late in the first half winger Sebastian de Klerk was hit head-on-head with Alex Nankenville and despite having to go off the field, referee Adam Jones referred to it as a “rugby incident”.

The problem arises again and again in rugby union where officials are asked to decide subjectively what is a red card and what is not, with minute details of slow-motion replays being analysed over and over again.

And while that is ok, the discrepancies are there on a weekly basis where consistency is absent and fans are left perplexed. After all, ask any Bulls supporter to tell you why Goosen got red and Leinster scrumhalf Luke McGrath only a yellow for a similar clash a few weeks ago and it gets technical.


But rugby does itself no favours when there are these discrepancies and consistency is once again absent in the game.

Either way, it was a red card for Goosen according to the letter of the law, and Munster pounced afterwards, getting John Hodnett scoring in the corner to level the scores and then late in the game Conor Murray eventually broke down the defence for the winning try.

It may sound harsh to say the red card swung the game, and especially for Goosen, who was having possibly his best game in a Bulls jersey up to that point, and was a candidate for man of the match.

The win meant that Munster leapfrogged the Bulls into third place, and was a massive blow for Jake White’s ambitions of a home playoff game later in the tournament.

But while the Bulls were brave in defeat, Munster showed just how good their gamesmanship was by totally dominating referee Adam Jones.

There wasn’t a stoppage in play where there wasn’t a Munster player in his face and questioning a call or two, and it worked. The naivety of the Bulls came to the fore (as well as the ref) as they ceded the advantage in an error-ridden game on their home ground to the Irish side.

Still, when the team goes back in the cold light of day, they will realise they weren’t the dominant force they normally are at their home ground, and they kept Munster in the game in the first half with a jittery performance.


The Bulls at times resembled a basketball side, who tried a high-risk attack endeavor that was always going to be risky, but especially so against a quality side like Munster.

And they were punished for their indiscretions, with Munster taking a 17-10 lead into the break.

The Irish side scored first, after the Bulls couldn’t maintain their pressure and an overthrown lineout landed in the hands of the opposition, with Munster hitting up through their forwards a few times before using the overlap for Shane Daly to score in the corner.

The Bulls hit back when Elrigh Louw broke through three tackles close to the line to score. The move started with an exceptional corner kick by Goosen, and then pressure that caught Munster inside their own dead ball area to force the turnover.

A Goosen penalty got the Bulls ahead, but another mistake led to RG Snyman scoring against his former side, after a turnover ball was dropped by Wilco Louw and Munster capitalised from the mistake.

Joey Carberry extended the lead just before the break to make it a seven-point lead.


The Bulls returned from the break a lot stronger and scored first, threading the ball through the eye of the needle, after David Kriel went blind, got the ball under pressure to Louw, who popped it to Kurt-Lee Arendse for a score.

Johan Grobbelaar put them ahead with a score from a tap penalty, going over with three players on his shoulder.

It looked as if the Bulls were getting on top, and then the red card came, giving Munster a 14-point swing while making the lineups lopsided.

And the Bulls tried desperately to hold out. But with everything going against them on the night, it wasn’t to be.


Vodacom Bulls - tries: Elrigh Louw, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Johan Grobbelaar

Conversion: Johan Goosen (2), Penalties: Goosen

Munster - tries: Shane Daly, RG Snyman, Josh Hodnett, Conor Murray. Conversion: Jack Crowley (3). Penalty: Crowley

Red Card: Johan Goosen.