It will take two of the greatest upsets in Rugby World Cup history for the Springboks to lose out on the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Japan, but they are not home and dry yet.
The Boks play Canada who have scored the least points (seven) in their three matches on Tuesday and the All Blacks still have to face Italy in their last pool match. Depending on bonus points, wins for Italy and Canada could see South Africa ousted with Italy progressing with New Zealand, who on Sunday jumped to the top of the Pool B log with their win over Namibia.
“This match (against Canada) is just as important as the three that we have already played – it has the same number of log points available and the same impact on our chances of qualifying and we have to now complete the job,” says Rassie Erasmus in a media communications from SA Rugby.
“But the first thing we have to focus on is winning the match and securing a place in the quarter-finals.”
♦ The Springboks have made 13 changes to their starting XV for Tuesday’s match against Canada in Kobe to manage the four-day turnaround between their final two Rugby World Cup pool matches.
Captain Siya Kolisi and centre Damian de Allende reappear for a second successive start while five of the replacements from the victory over Italy (49-3) on Friday are promoted to the starting line-up. They are Frans Steyn (centre), Francois Louw (looseforward), Franco Mostert and RG Snyman (both locks) and Vincent Koch (prop).
Nine of the team that defeated Namibia 57-3 in City of Toyota in the preceding match regain a starting place while Damian Willemse – who arrived as an injury replacement from the UK on Thursday – goes straight into the starting line-up at fullback.
There are also first starts at the Rugby World Cup for Thomas du Toit (prop) and Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf).
A win with a bonus point would almost certainly secure a place in the quarterfinals for the Springboks.
“A four-day turnaround between tests is a challenge but we had planned for it and will be well prepared,” said Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby.
“There are a number of new combinations in our team, but we have been together for several weeks now and everyone understands our gameplan and strategies. The nice thing is that at the end of the match every member of the squad will have started a Rugby World Cup match.
There are a number of positional changes in the backline, with Sbu Nkosi switching to the left wing, Warrick Gelant starting on the right flank and De Allende being given a start at outside centre.
The versatile Du Toit starts at loosehead prop, while Louw is at No 8 with Schalk Brits returning to his more usual No 2 jersey after appearing at the back of the scrum against Namibia.
A powerful looking bench includes five of the starting XV from the victory over Italy in Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Handré Pollard and Willie le Roux.
Rested completely from the squad that played Italy are Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Lukhanyo Am (centre) and Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi (wings) – who had featured in all four matches in Japan – as well as Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen and Faf de Klerk.
“Our preparations for the match have been shortened by the turnaround time but we are giving Canada the same attention we applied in the three previous matches,” said Erasmus.
The match kicks off at 12h15 (SA time).
The Springbok team to play Canada in Kobe on Tuesday is:
- Damian Willemse (Stormers) 5 caps – 0 points
- Warrick Gelant (Bulls), 8 caps - 10 (2t)
- Damian de Allende (Stormers), 43 - 20 (4t)
- Frans Steyn (Montpellier, France), 63 - 136 (10t, 7c, 21p, 3d)
- Sbu Nkosi (Sharks) 9 - 35 (7t), 9 – 35 (7t)
- Elton Jantjies (Lions), 36 – 265 (2t, 54c, 49p)
- Cobus Reinach (Northampton, England), 13 - 15 (3t)
- Francois Louw (Bath, England), 72 - 50 (10t)
- Kwagga Smith (Lions), 5 - 0
- Siya Kolisi (captain, Stormers), 46 - 30 (6t)
- Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England), 35 - 5 (1t)
- RG Snyman (Bulls), 19 – 5 (1t)
- Vincent Koch (Saracens, England), 17 - 0
- Schalk Brits (Bulls), 14 - 10 (2t)
- Thomas du Toit (Sharks), 11 – 0
- Malcolm Marx (Lions), 29 – 25 (5t)
- Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), 43 - 5 (1t)
- Frans Malherbe (Stormers), 34 – 0
- Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), 82 - 15 (3t)
- Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), 52 – 25 (5t)
- Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), 7 - 20 (4t)
- Handré Pollard (Bulls) 44 – 410 (6t, 70c 76p, 4d)
- Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz, Japan), 58 – 60 (12t)
Facts and Stats
Canada have been playing international rugby since 1932 and have competed in every Rugby World Cup tournament since 1987.
The Springboks’ first test match against Canada, also known as the Canucks, was during the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995. The Springboks won the match at the Boet Erasmus Stadium in Port Elizabeth 20-0.
Five years later, the second Test between the two teams took place at Waverley Park in East London when the Springboks were again the victors, the score 51-18.
The test match on Tuesday will feature only one Springbok who played in the test in East London, but this time as the director of rugby of SA Rugby, Rassie Erasmus.
The complete South African record against Canada is as follows:
Played 2, Won 2, Points for 71, Points against 10, Tries for 10, Tries against 2, Win % 100%
Individual match records against Canada are:
- Most points in a Test match: 11 (4c, 1p) by Braam van Straaten on 10 June 2000 in East London.
- Most tries in a Test match: 2 each by Adriaan Richter on 3 June 1995 in Port Elizabeth and both of Breyton Paulse and Robbie Fleck on 10 June, 2000 in East London.
- Most conversions in a Test match: 4 by Braam van Straaten on 10 June, 2000 in East London.
- The total test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 396.
- There are 177 caps in the backline with 219 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 349 caps.
- The average caps per player in the backline is 25, the forwards 27 while the players on the bench average 44.
- The average age of the starting fifteen is 27.
- Handré Pollard is the Springbok record holder for most penalty goals (26) in RWC tournaments.
- He is now also the new record holder for the Springbok with most points (115) in RWC tournaments.
- He surpassed the record of Percy Montgomery (111) in the Test against Italy on Friday.
- The referee is Luke Pearce of England. This will be his 25th Test match as a referee.
- The assistant referees are Angus Gardner of Australia and Andrew Brace of Ireland while Rowan Kitt from England will be the TMO.