‘They are not supermen’: France prop plays down Springboks threat

Reda Wardi, a forward for France, has downplayed the threat posed by South Africa’s forwards, saying the Springboks “are not supermen” as the hosts and defending champions prepare to face off in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.

Following the Springboks’ loss to Ireland, it appears like the two teams will face off in the last eight, with France expected to win Pool A.

The two teams, who are among the favorites to win the tournament, also have access to two of the most potent forward packs in the world.

In their match against Ireland, South Africa used a seven forwards to one back bench split, but the substitute pack was unable to push their way over for the crucial winning maul score.

Wardi believes that Ireland’s victory demonstrates that the Springboks can be matched, even though he acknowledges the power that the 2019 winners possess.

We are aware of their massive front pack, according to La Rochelle’s Wardi. “You can anticipate that they want to bring physicality when they opt for a seven-one bench split. They are not supermen, but they are elite rugby players.

“I wasn’t shocked by the South Africans or the Irish response. We’re used to playing against Leinster, a team with numerous international players, because we play for La Rochelle. This group never quits.

“As we all know, South Africans are warriors. Both teams demonstrated that they are significant rugby-playing nations.

While the Springboks originally employed the seven/one split in their last exhibition match at Twickenham against New Zealand, the six/two split has been popular ever since it helped South Africa win four years ago.

Known as the “bomb squad,” Rassie Erasmus’ team needed those six forward replacements to succeed in Japan and win a third World Cup.

Throughout this cycle, France has used their own variation, frequently bringing on a totally new tight five as they rose to become tournament favorites.

Sekou Macalou, Paul Boudehent, and Thomas Ramos are all versatile players, so Fabien Galthie can be confident that he has adequate cover at every position. For instance, Macalou, who is usually a flanker, played on the wing for 70 minutes of a 30-26 victory over South Africa in November of last year.

“When you go for a six-two split, you can be more aggressive in the scrums, the lineouts, and the mauls,” Wardi said of the advantages of the bench tactic. “However, a five-three split would be an excellent idea to offer some fresh legs and speed. It’s just how I perceive things; I’m not a trained tactician.

As a front-row player, it is not a significant concern because a whole replacement front row is always available on the bench. The second and back rows stand to gain from it [a six-two split] the most.

Antoine Dupont, France’s top scrum half and captain, is debating donning a protective mask after breaking his cheekbone in the team’s victory over Namibia last week, but he may still be eligible for the quarterfinal weekend.

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