The Springboks bounced back from a shock 34-32 defeat against Japan in the opening match of their Rugby World Cup campaign with a confident 46-6 victory over Samoa last weekend.
They now continue their World Cup journey this Saturday with an important clash against the Scottish, who have won both of their encounters thus far. South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer is aware that this will be his side’s most difficult match so far, according to the rankings, and will be counting on his players to emerge victorious in order to move a step closer to the knockout rounds.
With the Scotland match approaching, AFKSports reveals 10 facts about the battle between the Scots and the Springboks.
Sources: SARU, SuperSport.
Captain Jean de Villiers broke his jaw against Samoa in the previous match, forcing him out of the tournament. The skipper was forced to return home from England so that he could be replaced by Jan Serfontein for the remainder of the tournament, and decided to announce his international retirement as a result. This news is incredibly sad for De Villiers, as he had done phenomenally well to return from a devastating knee injury suffered in November, 2014 to be fit and ready for action ahead of the World Cup.
Then, in a match against Argentina, the captain suffered a jaw fracture that would see him recover for a further four weeks, returning in time to take part in the flagship rugby tournament, before re-fracturing his jaw.
With Jean de Villiers out of the remainder of the tournament, Heyneke Meyer was forced to select a new captain to lead the Boks for the rest of the tournament, and while the choice would have been between the likes of Victor Matfield, Francois Louw and Duane Vermuelen as veterans with leadership experience, the eventual decision went in favour of Fourie du Preez. The player will become the Springboks’ 56th test captain when he leads his team-mates out on to the pitch in the Pool B game.
The first test match between South Africa and Scotland took place in Glasgow in 99 years ago, with Scotland winning 6-0 on that occasion. All in all, there have been 25 test matches played between the Scots and South Africa, with 20 wins for the Springboks and five for Scotland. Saturday’s test will be the first time that the two nations clash at a neutral venue. As for Rugby World Cup encounters, the two teams have only met once before, in 1999 when the Springboks won 46-29 against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Jan Serfontein may take part in his first ever Rugby World Cup match on Saturday against Scotland, if he comes into the game from the bench. The youngster was brought into the squad as a replacement for the injured De Villiers, and he flew into the country in preparation for his spot on the substitutes bench.
The Scots are yet to lose in this year’s Rugby World Cup, with wins against Japan and the USA. Scotland defeated Japan 45-10 in their opening game, which was an impressive win considering the fact that the Springboks had fallen to the Japanese four fays earlier. Their second victory came against the Americans, with a decisive 39-16 win setting things up nicely for the Scottish ahead of matches against South Africa and then Samoa.
Bryan Habana will be hoping to give the Scots a problem on Saturday, and if his experience and records are anything to go by, he will certainly be a threat. He will extend his record of 111 caps, making him the most experienced Springbok backline player with 112 caps (only Victor Matfield has played in more test matches for South Africa with 125 caps). If Habana scores a try against Scotland he will further his own record of 60 test tries for his country. He also has the Springbok record for most career tries in Rugby World Cups, with an impressive 11 tries to his name.
The incredibly successful front row combination of Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira will come together once again this weekend against Scotland to star in a record 20th test starting lineup, ensuring that the South African scrum will have a familiar look to it and a strong set up. In addition to that front row record, Bismarck du Plessis could potentially add to his record for the most tries as a hooker, having scored ten in previous tests.
Veteran Schalk Burger is his team’s most capped Springbok in the flank position, having appeared in 75 tests in that role, while the Scotland match will be his 82nd for the Springboks. He is also the Springbok record holder for most tries in two positions, as a flank with 13 tries, and as a forward with 14, showing his versatility and value to the squad.
The venue for the encounter between the Springboks and Scotland is St James’ Park in Newcastle, which is the stadium used by English Premier League club Newcastle United since 1892. It has a capacity of around 52,4000 seats. It is the second biggest sports ground in England outside of London.
The side selected by Meyer for this encounter sees only three changes to the starting lineup from the Samoa match, with two of them as a result of injuries. Jesse Kriel will join Damian De Allende in the midfield, in the place of De Villiers, while Lood de Jager replaces Matfield at lock.
Starting 15: Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Jesse Kriel, Damian De Allende, Bryan Habana, Handré Pollard, Fourie du Preez (capt), Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Francois Louw, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.
Substitutes: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein