Row erupts between Boks and All Blacks

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A simmering war of words that has developed between the All Blacks and Springboks has prompted an unprecedented meeting with match officials ahead of Saturday’s Tri-Nations clash, according to local media reports.

Coaches Graham Henry and Peter de Villiers will meet with referee Matt Goddard to discuss issues that have arisen since New Zealand beat South Africa 19-8 in Wellington last Saturday, the Dominion Post newspaper reported on Thursday.

South Africa’s de Villiers called New Zealand’s scrummaging in the match illegal, prompting an angry response from New Zealand scrum coach Mike Cron, while injured captain John Smit had said referees favoured the All Blacks.

Smit was injured when he was picked up and unceremoniously dumped by Brad Thorn after an incident at a ruck and will miss Saturday’s game at Carisbrook in Dunedin.

Thorn was initially penalised for the incident, then later suspended for a week.

“Just imagine Bakkies Botha doing something similar to Richie McCaw. World rugby would have come to a standstill,” Smit was quoted as saying by the Wellington-based newspaper.

“One almost gets the idea that anyone who is not from New Zealand does not have the same rights as someone who plays for the All Blacks.”

De Villiers also said the tactics of All Blacks loosehead prop Tony Woodcock were illegal, claiming he would step outside the line of the scrum to change the angle of the engagement then use it to bore in on his opposite.

Cron, however, said Woodcock was not doing what de Villiers claimed and anyone who did engage in “stepping around” would be easily spotted by match officials.

“It is legal,” Cron told the New Zealand Herald of Woodcock’s technique. “I would give up if I coached All Black illegalities. I would chuck it away.

“I try and teach our scrum coaches in New Zealand to be purists of the art of scrummaging.

“Over four years I think every team that we have put out has portrayed a good aggression, a good technique and wants to stay within the laws.

“If you do things within those legal boundaries it is the strongest and safest technique. It is negative otherwise.”

New Zealand coach Henry also fired back at the South Africans, claiming that flyhalf Daniel Carter had been the target of several off the ball incidents, including a number of shuddering late tackles by his opposite Butch James.