Springboks Set for Epic Rugby World Cup Opener Against Scotland"
In a momentous Rugby World Cup (RWC) opener, the Springboks are gearing up to face Scotland in Marseille this Sunday. The South African squad, led by coach Jacques Nienaber, boasts a settled lineup with Faf de Klerk, the scrumhalf maestro, earning his 50th Test cap – a remarkable milestone in his illustrious career.
De Klerk is among the eleven players who have retained their starting positions from the team's historic victory over New Zealand just two weeks ago. Coach Nienaber has made subtle adjustments to the roster for this pivotal match, set to unfold in what rugby enthusiasts have dubbed "the pool of death."
The stakes are high, with Scotland holding the fifth spot in the world rankings, the Springboks at number two, and Ireland, another contender in the same pool, holding the top position. In this fiercely competitive environment, only two teams will secure a spot in the quarter-finals, while Tonga and Romania await their challengers.
Notable changes in the Springbok lineup include Jasper Wiese taking over the No 8 position, with Duane Vermeulen moving to the bench. In the backline, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel unite in the midfield, and the dynamic Cheslin Kolbe returns as the left-wing, replacing Makazole Mapimpi.
Injury niggles have ruled out two players, utility back Canan Moodie and lock Jean Kleyn, from contention.
The Springbok bench leans towards a six-two split in favor of the forwards. Impact players such as Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, and Duane Vermeulen have been named among the reserves. Grant Williams and Willie le Roux provide crucial backline cover.
Coach Nienaber expressed confidence in the squad's depth, emphasizing its suitability for the task at hand: "We are pleased with the squad depth we have built in the last few months, and we believe this group of players strikes the right balance to achieve the result we need against Scotland."
The anticipation for the RWC opener is palpable, with Nienaber highlighting the team's readiness and the challenge they face: "We've been working hard in the last few weeks to make sure we are as prepared as possible going into this match and we are fully aware of the challenge that awaits us."
Nienaber also lauded Faf de Klerk for reaching the 50-test cap milestone and acknowledged his pivotal role in the team's success: "Earning 50 Test caps is a massive achievement, and to mark that feat in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup makes it very special. Faf has been a key member of our team for a few years, so we are delighted for him."
Expectations are high for a closely contested battle against Scotland, with Nienaber underlining the need for the Springboks to find their rhythm swiftly, given Scotland's formidable pack and skilled backline.
The history between the two sides in recent years favors the Springboks, with victories in 2018 and 2021. However, this RWC encounter promises to be a thrilling contest.
Kick-off for the match is scheduled for 17h45 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Springbok Starting Lineup:
Springbok team to face Scotland in Marseille:
15 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 33 caps, 41 points (3t, 4c, 4pg, 2dg)
14 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – 10 caps, 55 points (11t)
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 62 caps, 70 points (14t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 73 caps, 50 points (10t)
11 – Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath) – 26 caps, 81 points (12t, 3c, 5pg)
10 – Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers) – 9 caps, 65 points (1t, 21c, 6pg)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) – 49 caps, 44 points (5t, 2c, 5pg)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 23 caps, 5 points (1t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 71 caps, 35 points (7t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Racing 92) – 77 caps, 50 points (10t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 67 caps, 15 points (3t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 113 caps, 25 points (5t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 63 caps, 5 points (1t)
2 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 63 caps, 85 points (17t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (Ulster) – 76 caps, 10 points (2t)
16 – Bongi Mbonambi (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 62 caps, 65 points (13t)
17 – Ox Nche (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 21 caps, 0 points
18 – Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92) – 62 caps, 5 points (1t)
19 – RG Snyman (Munster) – 28 caps, 5 points (1t)
20 – Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls) – 14 caps, 0 points
21 – Duane Vermeulen (SA Rugby) – 70 caps, 15 points (3t)
22 – Grant Williams (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 5 caps, 0 points
23 – Willie le Roux (Vodacom Bulls) – 87 caps, 65 points (13t)
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]