Goats against All Blacks – a duel to remember

Henry

Tonight’s World Cup final at the Stade de France between world rugby’s two biggest rivals promises to be one that sports fans will remember for a long time.

South Africa and New Zealand’s rugby teams are undoubtedly built for World Cup tournaments. Both countries have already lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy three times, while in 2015 the All Blacks became the first team to successfully defend its title when they beat Australia at Twickenham.

But here follows a touch of uplifting news on a Saturday afternoon: The Springboks have never lost in a World Cup final, while the All Blacks lost against the very South Africans at Ellis Park in 1995.

“I remember the 1995 final very well. I remember how we all celebrated after the match,” said Jacques Nienaber.

But even with the euphoria that accompanied the Ellis Park triumph, Nienaber believes that tonight’s action could probably turn into one of the biggest rugby matches yet.

Mzwandile Stick agrees with his head coach.

“We live to play in games like this; it is about the South Africans who dream of being in our position. We are going to do everything in our power to make them smile,” said the Springbok assistant coach.

Admittedly, a few eyebrows were raised this week when the South Africans announced that they would once again play with seven forwards on the substitutes’ bench.

However, Nienaber has confidence in his players’ abilities.

“We have chosen the 23 players for a reason and we believe that they will be at their best to successfully defend our World Champion title.”

All Blacks coach Ian Foster also indicated that he does not have a problem with the Boks’ bench strength.

“This is why I love rugby so much – you try different things to win. The Springboks’ strategy suits their way of playing, while we also focus on our strengths. It promises to be a very interesting game.”

The showdown starts tonight at 21:00 and the action will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

  • March to the final:

South Africa:

18–3 against Scotland

76–0 against Romania

8–13 against Ireland

49–18 against Tonga

29–28 v France (quarter-final)

16–15 v England (semi-final)

New Zealand:

13–27 against France

71–3 against Namibia

96–17 against Italy

73–0 against Uruguay

28–24 v Ireland (quarter-final)

44–6 v Argentina (semi-final)

Springboks: Damian Willemse (full back), Kurt-Lee Arendse (right wing), Jesse Kriel (outside centre), Damian de Allende (inside centre), Cheslin Kolbe (left wing), Handré Pollard (fly-half), Faf de Klerk (scrum-half), Duane Vermeulen (eighth man ), Pieter-Steph du Toit (flank), Siya Kolisi (captain and flank), Franco Mostert (lock), Eben Etzebeth (lock), Frans Malherbe (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) and Steven Kitshoff (prop). Substitutes bench: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman, Kwagga Smith, Jasper Wiese and Willie le Roux.

All Blacks: Beauden Barrett (full back), Will Jordan (right wing), Rieko Ioane (outside centre), Jordie Barrett (inside centre), Mark Tele’a (left wing), Richie Mo’unga (fly-half), Aaron Smith (scrum-half), Ardie Savea (eighth ), Sam Cane (captain and flank), Shannon Frizell (flank), Scott Barrett (lock), Brodie Retallick (lock), Tyrel Lomax (prop), Codie Taylor (hooker) and Ethan de Groot (prop). Substitutes: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Tamaiti Williams, Nepo Laulala, Sam Whitelock, Dalton Papali’i, Finlay Christie, Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown.