Shane and Habana clashed amid Springboks v Wales confrontations and accusations
Maybe Irish dog of war Peter O'Mahony can forget any hopes he had of a Christmas card from Sam Cane this year after informing New Zealand captain Sam Cane of his opinion of him during last weekend's Test in Dunedin. "Who do you think you are? You're a s**t Richie McCaw pal," O'Mahony is reported to have told the Chiefs' veteran.
Blame all those missed lessons from his local charm school as a boy, perhaps. Credit Cane, though, for taking the comment in good humour, saying he didn't mind it. Read next:South Africa v Wales decider: Scoreline predicted by writers as history beckons
Wales v South Africa? Or Welsh teams and players against South African opposition? There have been moments when relations haven't been as smooth as all would have liked and when sharp words were exchanged.
MARK ORDERS looks at some of those.
Mike Phillips v Bakkies Botha
The thing is with William Michael Phillips, he always found it a challenge to turn the other cheek. One of Welsh rugby's supreme competitors, he played in opposition faces and never took a backward stop. And he was often prepared to trade words, sometimes caustic words with opponents, as Justin Marshall discovered when a young Phillips used a game between Cardiff and Leeds to inform the 81-cap All Black he was "rubbish".
Three years later Phillips was tangling with the Springboks for the Lions in South Africa when he was denied a try by Bakkies Botha knocking the ball from his hands at the last second. What followed went down as one of the classic on-pitch exchanges. "I'm gutted now and I look up and he's standing there smiling at me with all his mates, who were all about 7ft tall," recalled Phillips in a subsequent interview with WalesOnline. "I'm thinking I can't let him just smile at me, so I made some comment about them all being on steroids.
"At this point, I'm expecting a punch in the face or at least a push of some sort. "But, in his thick accent, he's come back with: 'Oh, you have sexy blue eyes.' "I was so confused.
Fair play to him, I didn't have any comeback for that." All a bit weird, mind.Bakkies Botha of South Africa gets to grips with Wales (Image: Warren Little/Getty Images)
Shane Williams v Bryan Habana
These two are good mates now, but when they met on the field in the summer 2008 relations weren't quite so cordial. Williams was at the peak of his powers.
Angry after Wales had been crushed in the first Test, he was on a mission to personally deliver against a player who'd been feted as one of the best wings in the world for a number of years. Let Williams take up the tale in his book, Shane, My Story: "I began shouting at him: 'Mismatch, mismatch!' "I continued by shouting at our boys: 'Just give me the ball.
I've got him. No problem." "He didn't take kindly to it. 'Ah, f**k you, f**k you,' he yelled back at me."
The episode wasn't typical Williams. An all-round nice guy who is popular and rarely less than helpful, he found himself carried away in the heat of the moment. Afterwards, he and Habana joked about it.
"In rugby there's an understanding between players that passions sometimes rise on the field and lead to a few verbals. Everyone knows there's nothing sinister in it. I just laugh about the way I acted when I think back now.
It wasn't the Shane Williams I know," Williams wrote.
Jake Ball v Faf de Klerk
Endless love there doesn't appear to have been between these two. Rewind to the 2019 World Cup semi-final in Japan after the South African scrum-half became embroiled in a tangle, with Ball rapidly appearing on the scene with his own take on a peacemaker's role, shoving the green-shirted No.
9. A mismatch?
It looked it, for sure, with De Klerk barely 5ft 7in and weighing in at 12st 8lb, while Ball is 6ft 6in and 19st 1lb. But the smaller of the two protagonists, a veritable Jack Russell with attitude, grabbed Ball's collar only for the then Wales lock to reciprocate in altogether more forceful mode. For a split second it looked as if the South African population might be reduced by one that evening.
Heads went dangerously close to touching, with one media outlet suggesting the pair were shaking each other warmly by the throat. Words were exchanged and Ball was clearly considering his options; at that stage a nuclear response couldn't be ruled out, as de Klerk laughed in his face. In commentary Shane Williams said: "They're just discussing what shampoo they use in their hair and beards."
The discussion did eventually end, only to resume when the Scarlets met Sale Sharks in a Heineken Champions Cup clash in Llanelli some 18 months later, with Ball clattering de Klerk at the back of a ruck. There were claims the Wales international should have been red-carded, but de Klerk subsequently popped up on a podcast to say: "I'm all good. It's fine.
Just a bit of a rugby incident. There are no hard feelings at all . "I don't have any issues with him; he might have an issue with me.
But we did have a chat after the game and I don't think there is any animosity. "That's how the game goes. They obviously want to try and get their team on the go and one way of doing that is to spoil the ruck for us and stop us getting quick ball.
"It just happened. Afterwards, when I looked at it then maybe I thought it was a bit more serious than I initially thought. But hopefully there is no animosity and we can just get along playing again."
Neath v South Africa, Battle of The Gnoll, 1994
The tone was set for one of the most ferocious rugby matches ever played with a set of programme notes for the evening.
Under the heading Memories of Battle, Neath supremo Brian Thomas wrote of his 1969 tussle with "the great South African prop, Potgeiter". He recalled: "He didn't speak English, only smiled. I punched him, kicked him, swore at him and all he did throughout the game was smile at me."
It was later suggested that both sides must have read the gospel according to St Brian before they left their dressing rooms.
For there followed an encounter that made some of the battle scenes in the film Braveheart look as if they'd been lifted from Care Bears The Movie. Afterwards, the blame game went into overdrive. South Africa called for Neath to be banned from hosting tour matches, with Tiaan Strauss, who had his nose broken after a tussle with legendary prop Brian Williams, saying: "I think they went on the field to fight us."
Chris 'One Man Riot' Wyatt ran 40 metres to aid beleaguered colleagues during the fighting. Thereafter, some locals wanted a stand named after him. They were joking.
Presumably. You can read more about Wyatt here.One of many fights that unfolded in the Neath v South Africa game in 1994
But the Welsh All Blacks had no truck with the idea the violence was down to them. Gareth Llewellyn later said: "We had no choice to play as we did.
"No one went out to play like that. Every match takes on its own dynamic and in those days it was a fact of life that some matches did get a bit stormy. "You just had to fight your corner and if you had the good luck to have a guy like Brian Williams in your team then you were in a good place.
"At one point, Brian took on three of them. "That wasn't a fair fight, then. "I'm surprised more South Africans didn't get involved to even up the odds."
What of Thomas, he of the Potgeiter quote mentioned above? He didn't exactly lose sleep over the scenes, saying afterwards: "I don't worry about punching and kicking. That's all part of the game."
Mpumalanga big-wig, 1998
Sadly, the chap missed out on the Henry Kissinger Award for diplomacy that year. The South Africa leg of the trip had started inauspiciously for Wales after a win in Zimbabwe a week earlier. Emerging Springboks had beaten them 35-13, though the tourists had been quietly encouraged by a battling second-half display.
Evidently, though, the bespectacled local official from the Mpumalanga rugby union hadn't spotted too many positives for Dennis John's squad. "I will not dwell too much on the hiding we handed your side," he opened with, before going downhill from there. "We welcome you and your party here, Sir Watkins."
Sir Watkins? That would have been Sir Tasker Watkins, Welsh Rugby Union president at the time and Victoria Cross winner once described as the greatest living Welshman. Graciously, Sir Tasker took it all in his stride.
On that trip, which ended with a 96-13 defeat by the Springboks, he was one tourist who did return home significantly in credit. READ NEXT: Today's rugby news as Gibbs says South Africa have 'unfair advantage' and Wales on brink of career highlight
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