It has been 1,408 days since Siya Kolisi lifted the Webb Ellis trophy in Yokohama. Today, 10 September 2023, marks the official start of the Springboks’ campaign to defend their world title.
The South Africans play this afternoon against Scotland in their first match of the 2023 World Cup tournament in Marseille.
Let’s not get carried away: The Goats are in a tough group. In addition to the Scottish challenge, they will also have to compete against Ireland, an unpredictable Tonga team and Romania in Group B.
If Kolisi wins the group, they will probably have to face the All Blacks in the quarter-finals. If they finish second, France awaits them.
No wonder a few of the players compared the Scotland game to a waffle final.
The mission is really simple – pit your man against the best teams in the world and win every game.
“A lot has already been written and said about the group we find ourselves in; but if we want to win the World Cup we will have to deal with the best teams anyway. Scotland is a good taste of what awaits us,” Kolisi said in the run-up to the Scottish duel.
The Scots were also persuaded to win their opening game.
Players such as Duhan van der Merwe, WP Nel and Pierre Schoeman are familiar with South African rugby and there are experts who believe that their knowledge is to the bagpipers’ advantage.
But to be honest, theory doesn’t help you much when you struggle in the practical exam.
Scotland has also never been able to beat South Africa in a World Cup match. The Springboks dominated at Murrayfield in 1999 with 46-29, while they also waved the scepter in 2015 with their victory of 34-16 in Newcastle.
Still, it doesn’t seem like Gregor Townsend and co. don’t really care much about the touch of statistics.
“We are going to try not to leave South Africa alone for one moment. “For the past few weeks we have only been concentrating on being at our very best for the games leading up to the tournament,” confirmed the Scotland coach.
In addition, their confidence cup is overflowing, they like to run with the ball and play attacking rugby. Almost like the All Blacks.
But after 80 minutes of play in Marseille, the Boks’ forwards may once again have just too much muscle for their opponents.
Just look at what happened against New Zealand at Twickenham.
Springboks: Damian Willemse (full back), Kurt-Lee Arendse (right wing), Jesse Kriel (outside centre), Damian de Allende (inside centre), Cheslin Kolbe (left wing), Manie Libbok (fly-half), Faf de Klerk (scrum-half), Jasper Wiese (eighth ), Pieter-Steph du Toit (flank), Siya Kolisi (captain and flank), Franco Mostert (lock), Eben Etzebeth (lock), Frans Malherbe (prop), Malcolm Marx (hooker) and Steven Kitshoff (prop). Substitutes: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Grant Williams and Willie le Roux.
Scotland: Blair Kinghorn (full back), Darcy Graham (right wing), Huw Jones (outside centre), Sione Tuipulotu (inside centre), Duhan van der Merwe (left wing), Finn Russell (fly-half), Ben White (scrum-half), Jack Dempsey (eighth man), Rory Darge (flank), Jamie Ritchie (captain and flanker), Grant Gilchrist (lock), Richie Gray (lock), Zander Fagerson (prop), George Turner (hooker) and Pierre Schoeman (prop). Subs: Dave Cherry, Jamie Bhatti, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Ali Price, Cameron Redpath and Ollie Smith.