BREAKING: Springboks shock with team to face France

BREAKING: Springboks shock with team to face France


Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named an experienced team – including 15 players who featured in the 2019 final – for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France at the Stade de France in Paris on Sunday evening.

Eight players in the starting lineup will run out in the same positions as they did in the memorable 2019 final victory against England: Siya Kolisi, who will again lead the team, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Damian de Allende and Cheslin Kolbe.

 Furthermore, only two players in Sunday’s starting team, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Manie Libbok, and two more on the bench, Deon Fourie and Ox Nche, were not part of the 2019 RWC squad.

The entire group has participated in more than 60 Test matches. At lock, Etzebeth and Franco Mostert will couple up, with Kolisi, Du Toit, and Vermeulen making up the loose trio. Steven Kitshoff, Mbonambi, and Malherbe will pack down in the front row.

Cheslin Kolbe and Arendse will play on the flanks, De Allende and Kriel will be in charge of the midfield, Libbok and Cobus Reinach will form an exciting offensive halfback combination in the backline, and Damian Willemse will play fullback.

The bench of Nienaber’s replacements consists of three backs and five forwards. With Ox Nche and Vincent Koch serving as props, RG Snyman as the lock, and Kwagga Smith as the loose forward, Deon Fourie is the impact hooker.

With a combined total of 209 caps between Faf de Klerk, Handre Pollard, and Willie le Roux, the three backup players are also quite seasoned.Vermeulen moves from No. 7 to his specialty position at the rear of the scrum as one of 12 changes to the starting lineup from the group that defeated Tonga 49-18 in Marseille 13 days prior.

Only two players from the starting lineup have changed from the team that faced Ireland: De Klerk moved to scrumhalf and Jasper Wiese moved to no. 8.

Since 2018, we’ve been working with the majority of these players to assemble a team that can successfully defend our championship, according to Nienaber.

“We are certain that this group will give us the boost we need to compete with a strong French team that will be playing in front of a fervent home crowd.Several of these players participated in the 2019 final, and the most of them have Rugby World Cup experience, so they are aware of what it takes to perform under pressure.

Twenty of these players were also part of the matchday team that took on France in Marseille the previous year, which served as a useful prelude to what to anticipate from France and their supporters.Nienaber was excited to play the hosts in the quarterfinal in one of the most recognizable rugby grounds in the world.

The Bok coach predicted that the match would be “a huge clash for the players and supporters, and we are looking forward to it.”

We have been preparing for this World Cup since 2018, and now that we have a chance to advance, we must give everything we have.

“Since the margins will be thin, we must execute our strategy precisely and seize our opportunities. It’s do or death time.

“We know the game will be as intense as last year’s match, if not more intense, and in that match we had a red card and were in with a chance to win it with three or four minutes to go, so we have to give it our all for the full 80 minutes and ensure that we are extremely disciplined,” said one player.

 Springbok team to face France in Paris:
15 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 36 caps, 56 pts (4t, 9c, 4p, 2d)
14 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – 12 caps, 60 pts (12t)
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 65 caps, 75 pts (15t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 75 caps, 50 pts (10t)
11 – Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath) – 28 caps, 86 pts (13t, 3c, 5p)
10 – Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers) – 12 caps, 80 pts (1t, 24c, 9p)
9 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 29 caps, 60 pts (12t)
8 – Duane Vermeulen (SA Rugby) – 73 caps, 15 pts (3t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 73 caps, 40 pts (8t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Racing 92) – 80 caps, 50 pts (10t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 70 caps, 15 pts (3t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 116 caps, 25 pts (5t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 66 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 65 caps, 65pts (13t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (Ulster) – 80 caps, 10 pts (2t)
16 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 10 caps, 10 pts (2t)
17 – Ox Nche (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 25 caps, 0 pts
18 – Vincent Koch (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 47 caps, 0pts
19 – RG Snyman (Munster) – 31 caps, 5pts (1t)
20 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 37 caps, 35 pts (7t)
21 – Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) – 52 caps, 48 pts (5t, 4c, 5p)
22 – Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers) – 67 caps, 673 pts (7t, 94c, 145p, 5d)
23 – Willie le Roux (Vodacom Bulls) – 90 caps, 75 pts (15t)

Statistics and Facts:

Springbok H2H France:
Played 45; Won 27; Lost 12; Drawn 6. Points for: 965, Points against: 692. Tries scored 107, Tries conceded 61. Highest score 52-10; Biggest win 42 points. Average score: 21-15. Win % 60%.


  • Eben Etzebeth will equal Tendai Mtawarira’s 117 Test caps, meaning they will share third place on the list of most-capped Springboks.
  • The 880 caps in the starting team is the second-most ever for the Springboks – the most experienced team, with 891 combined caps – ran out against Samoa at Rugby World Cup in 2015.
  • The starting pack is the most experienced ever fielded by the Springboks sharing 623 caps. All eight have made a half century of test appearances and average 78 caps per man.
  • Eight players who will feature on Sunday, played against Samoa in 2015: Willie le Roux, Damian De Allende, Handre Pollard, Duane Vermeulen and Eben Etzebeth started, with Frans Malherbe, Siya Kolisi and Jesse Kriel on the bench.
  • The two replacement props, Ox Nche and Vincent Koch, are the only players in the match-23 who have not yet scored any Test points.
  • Kurt-Lee Arendse enters the match with an impressive try-scoring record of 12 tries in his 12 Test matches.
  • Pollard, with 665 Test points in the Springbok jersey, in in third place behind Morne Steyn (742) and Percy Montgomery (893).


  • This is just the second time France and South Africa have met at the Rugby World Cup. The previous meeting was in 1995 when the Springboks edged the semifinal 19-15 in a Durban downpour.
  • France (10 times) and South Africa (eight times) are two of just three teams to have reached the quarter-finals in each edition of the Rugby World Cup that they have participated in (also New Zealand, 10).
  • The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 880.
  • There are 257 caps in the backline, with 623 caps among the forwards. On the bench there are a further 359 caps.
  • The average caps per player in the backline is 37, the forwards 78, while the players on the bench average 45.

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