At 21-0 up against All Blacks, the Boks empty bench

We all know about the Springboks Bomb Squad – but how about this for a unique moment. With 46 minutes on the clock, in their match-up with the All Blacks, South Africa replaced seven of their pack in one go.

Due to a late change, as full-back Willie le Roux was pulled from the bench, the Boks management decided to replace him with a forward. Meaning that they had a seven-on split on the bench.

South Africa were already 21-0 up and well on top, with two tries to their name. New Zealand were reduced to 13 men in just 15 minutes and then late on in the half, Scott Barrett was sent off in a rare rugby circumstance. After Malcolm Marx scored from a sharp lineout play early in the second half, the South African management decided to empty their bench.

The sole remaining forward from the starting lineup, Pieter-Steph du Toit was yellow carded, but the scores kept coming, with replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi scoring in the corner.

How rare is it to have seven forwards on the bench?

In 2016, Eddie Jones joked that England might pull a similar tactic against Italy, saying of a lack of centre cover: “I’ve got no worries. We’ve got a six-two split. Why do you have to go five-three? I might go seven-one next week.”

jones said similar in 2021 as England prepared to face the United States of America. Then-coach Jones said that playing seven forwards on the bench was up for consideration.

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