South Africa

Published on: 20th August 2015

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Team Profile

World Ranking: 5

Odds of Winning: 5/1

Road To Qualification:

The two-times Rugby World Cup Winners qualified automatically for the competition. They have won in both 1995 and 2007. In 2011 their campaign ended in the Quarter-Finals, losing to  Australia 9 – 11.

Recent Results

Argentina 12 – 26 South Africa

South Africa 25 – 37 Argentina

South Africa 20 – 27 New Zealand

Australia 24 – 20 South Africa

World Cup Pool Games:

Date Time Team v Team Stadium
Saturday, 19 September 15 16:45 South Africa v Japan Brighton Community Stadium
Saturday, 26 September 15 16:45 South Africa v Samoa Villa Park, Birmingham
Saturday, 3 October 15 South Africa v Scotland Saint-James Park, Newcastle
Wednesday, 7 October 15 South Africa v USA Olympic Stadium, London

Strengths

  • Scrum
  • Lineout (especially with Victor Matfield)
  • Physicality
  • Young talent coming in (Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende)

Weaknesses

  • Poor Super Rugby season by the South African teams
  • An almost disastrous Rugby Championship, dropping from rank 2 to 5

Key Players

  • Willie Le Roux
  • Jesse Kriel
  • Eben Etzebeth
  • Handré Pollard
  • Pat Lambie

Injuries/Unlucky To Miss Out

Jean de Villiers isn’t certain to participate in the RWC as he suffered an injury to his jaw against Argentina, having only just comeback from knee ligament damage which had kept him out since November. Duane Vermeulen the starting Number 8 could also miss out as he had problems with his neck.

Squad

Heineke Meyer has announced their final squad of 31 players which sparks intense debated in South Africa as some choices are seen as “quota” selections by many fans. In the Rugby Championship in preparation of the RWC, they have used a large pool of players.

Props
Tendai Mtawira aka Beast
Trevor Nyakane
Jannie du Plessis
Frans Malherbe
Coenie Oosthuizen

Hookers
Bismarck du Plessis
Adriaan Strauss
Schalk Brits

Locks
Eben Etzebeth
Victor Matfield
Lood de Jager
Pieter-Steph du Toit

Back Row
Schalk Burger
Francois Louw
Duane Vermeulen
Willem Alberts
Siya Kolisi

Scrumhalf
Ruan Pienaar
Rudy Paige
Fourie du Preez

Flyhalf
Handré Pollard
Pat Lambie
Morné Steyn

Centres
Damian de Allende
Jesse Kriel
Jean de Villiers

Back 3
Brian Habana
JP Piertersen
Willie Le Roux
Zane Kirchner
Lwazi Mvovo

Summary

Despite a poor Rugby Championship in preparation of the Rugby World Cup, South Africa are still one of the favourites to win it. Their set piece is one of the best in the world, and their physicality, especially in the forwards is dreaded by most opponents. In the outside backs they have some proven talent with the deadly finishers like Brian Habana and Willie Le Roux.

South Africa’s exemplary captain Jean de Villiers has come back from an horrific knee injury in the Autumn but picked up another injury in the lead up to the RWC. He should be back early enough to play in the competition, but it remains to be seen if his play will be affected. In the meantime they have found a new exciting centre partnership in Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel, who impressed in the narrow losses against the Wallabies and All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.

Pool B includes Scotland, Japan, USA and Samoa. These four teams are close to each other in the World Rankings but should not prove very difficult to South Africa who are expected to top the the pool comfortably. With their recent losses, some see them struggling more than previously expected, and there has been speculation that the team is feeling their age. Others see their recent defeats as a great motivator, and predict them dominating the pool even more as a result.

Coming out of Pool B, their Quarter-Final should be a much tougher challenge as they will come against one of the teams that made it out of Pool A, the toughest pool in the competition. Will it be England, Australia, or Wales? It remains to be seen.

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