South Africa explain use of traffic light signals during Ireland game

“In terms of the lights, it started here probably when we played France in Marseille [in November 2022],” he said after South Africa got their World Cup defence underway with an 18-3 win over Scotland.


“I don’t know if you’ve been pitch-side but in this dome, the sound is phenomenal. You can’t hear anything.

“It’s for us, because there are a lot of [radio] channels we are working in and talking in, it’s sometimes tough for us to talk to our support staff. I think a lot of teams will have systems – is it red, is it green – for the extent of the injury or the knock and how serious it is. It’s just for us to communicate with support staff.”

Nienaber, Erasmus and Jones previously worked together at Irish province Munster before joining South Africa in 2017, and the head coach, architect of the defensive system that smothered Scotland, recalls using a similar signalling system there.

“I think you can do hand signals if you want,” Nienaber continued when asked if he had sought permission from governing body World Rugby before employing the system, “I don’t think you need permission from World Rugby. It’s a method. When I was at Munster, the call was red if it was a serious thing and we must consider a substitution.

“Amber is ‘listen, let’s give this guy five minutes to see if he’s OK’ and green is ‘it’s OK, he can go on’. It was something we used Munster in 2016 or 2017 and something we continue with.


“If we talk on a radio, we talk tactics. If we [also] talk to medical people about injuries, it just consumes the channels.”

Jones, capped 13 times by Ireland between 2011 and 2015, will leave the Springboks set-up at the conclusion of the tournament to join Steve Borthwick’s England staff.

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