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South Africa have ‘homework to do’ before Rugby World Cup final against All Blacks

After South Africa edged England to set up a historic Rugby World Cup final with New Zealand, Jacques Nienaber’s coaching staff and players have plenty to think about before the battle for a record fourth title.

Issued on: 22/10/2023 – 12:36

3 min

South Africa’s head coach Rassie Erasmus looks on ahead of a training session at the Mayol Stadium in Toulon, southern France, on September 28, 2023. © Clement Mahoudeau, AFP



The Springboks’ poor start to the semi-final victory almost cost them before they rallied to win 16-15 on Saturday.

The holders trailed 12-6 at the break after back-rowers Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit were both penalised and England’s Owen Farrell succeeded with four penalties.

The Boks’ lineouts misfired too, losing three of 10 during the game, half as many as they had in their previous five games in the tournament.

Next Saturday in Paris, they face an All Blacks side that swept Argentina aside with ease and scored a competition-leading 325 points.

“We’ll have to come up with a plan,” Boks fly-half Handre Pollard told reporters after the game.

“They’re really playing an explosive game, punishing teams from all over the park.

“We’ll have to do homework for that,” Pollard said.

Pollard, 29, kicked the match-winning penalty in difficult weather conditions in the 77th minute in Paris, four years after booting the decisive points with four minutes left against Wales in the semi-final in Japan.

A week later in Yokohama, he slotted 22 of South Africa’s 32 points in the final victory over England.

“Leading up to the last few minutes of the game you knew it would come down to something like that,” Pollard said.

“There was a little bit of a crosswind. The wind didn’t do too much. It rained all night so it made it slippery,” he added.


That opportunity came from replacement prop Ox Nche winning a penalty from a scrum, as the tight-head prop settled a Springboks set-piece which had been uncomfortable against England.

They lost four scrums, as they did against France in last weekend’s quarter-final, which will be another point of concern for Nienaber and his shrewd-thinking director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.

“Our scrum saved us,” Pollard said.

“It’s such a blessing to have such a big impact off the bench scrummage-wise,” he added.

For a second straight week Nienaber and Erasmus’ substitution policy worked, even if it took a bit longer to deliver.

Cool-headed Pollard came on for Manie Libbok after just half an hour against England, and experienced Faf de Klerk was introduced a minute after the break for Cobus Reinach.

Replacements such as Nche and RG Snyman, who scored a 69th minute try, also made positive impacts for the three-time Webb Ellis trophy winners before Pollard’s late penalty.

“We’re always ready for it,” Pollard said.

“You never expect to get on before half-time.

“But I got on the field and tried to do my thing,” he added.

Next weekend’s decider in the French capital is a rerun of 1995’s iconic World Cup final, won by South Africa.

The teams have played each other more than a 100 times since their first Test in 1921.

Nienaber’s side claimed the spoils in their last meeting, August’s record 35-7 win over the All Blacks in their final game before this World Cup.

New Zealand have recovered from that humiliation by edging tournament favourites Ireland in the last eight and hammering Argentina in the semis

“From how much they’ve grown from then to now is different,” Nche said.

“You can see the way they play, how they go about their things, it’s different.

“It’s going to be a whole new challenge,” he added.


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