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Rugby

18th Mar 2018

CJ Stander hit three rucks wearing only one boot against England

Martin Itoje threw his boot away

Ben Kiely

The 2018 Grand Slam clincher was nearly a bootless venture for CJ Stander.

On St Patrick’s Day, a day that broadcasters aggressively tried to rebrand as ‘Grand Slam Saturday,’ Ireland completed a clean sweep in the Six Nations for the first time since 2009. It was fitting that they managed to do it against the last team to achieve the Grand Slam, and in the Lion’s Den to boot.

Another interesting storyline was that this fixture came one year and a day after Ireland ground out a 13-9 victory over England in their tournament closer. This result denied their rivals across the Irish Sea a second consecutive Grand Slam.

England would have been hoping to return the favour and put a dampener on the celebrations. However, it felt like nothing was stopping Ireland from celebrating Paddy’s Day in style.

Sticking the boot in

Munster’s CJ Stander had arguably his best game of the championship against England. A try and a medal were his spoils for an exceptional shift in which he amassed 24 carries and 10 tackles.

Early in the second half, Stander was forced to put in some hard work in defence on less than sure-footing. When Owen Farrell came sprinting towards the Irish line, Stander and Peter O’Mahony tied him up and brought him down.

Whatever happened during the tackle, Stander reemerged with only one boot on. As England spread the play out wide, Maro Itjoe picked up the shoe and lobbed it away from play.

At this point, Stander knew he wasn’t getting his boot back on until the ball went dead. Even then, his laser-like focus meant he was largely unconcerned about his footwear. He was more worried about keeping the English attack away from the try line.

He picked himself up, dusted himself back off and went back into position. That pesky boot taunting him in his peripheral vision.

CJ Stander

Slippy

Stander went on to hit three rucks with just one boot on. Although he put in some good work on the ground during this period, it took him a while to adapt to the new conditions.

During one ruck, he was completely cleared out of it by English forwards. He tried to dig his feet in, but with no studs underneath his left sole, it slid along the turf while the other leg went skyward.

To be fair to Stander, even if he had both boots on, he was still fighting a losing battle in this two-on-one scenario. Plus, the on-and-off snowfall left the ground in a slippery state.

CJ Stander

A few moments later, the ball went out of play. That phenomenal ankle tap from Keith Earls Elliot Daly led to the winger going out of touch. Before the lineout was taken, the referee let Stander strap on another boot.

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