The Springboks are the nickname of the South Africa national rugby union team, the current holders of the Rugby World Cup having won the tournament in 2019. That was their third Rugby Union World Cup success, following their victories in 1995 and 2007.
While captain Siya Kolisi might lead them, the formidable Eben Etzebeth stands head and shoulders above most players in world rugby. He currently sits in fifth place on the all-time South Africa national rugby union team caps list and would enter a tie for third if his team made the final or the 3rd/4th playoff game.
Keep reading for a rundown of the current squad, their Pool B fixtures at the 2023 World Cup, and a brief history of the Springboks.
World Cup Fixtures
On paper, it is an easy introduction to the World Cup for the South Africa national rugby union team. Games a week apart against Scotland and Romania should be a pair of straightforward wins before the first real test of the campaign comes up on the 23rd of September.
Their third match sees them take on the Six Nations champions, Ireland. This is the tastiest-looking clash in Pool B and should be the game that determines the team who comes out on top of the group.
Pool B’s winner will face Pool A’s runner-up, and Pool B’s runner-up will take on Pool A’s winner. With New Zealand and France heading up that group, no matter where South Africa finishes in their pool, they will have a fight on their hands at the quarter-final stage.
All the Pool B games for the South Africa national rugby union team matches are listed below with dates and venues.
- September 10 – South Africa v Scotland (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
- September 17 – South Africa v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
- September 23 – South Africa v Ireland (Stade de France, Saint-Denis)
- October 1 – South Africa v Tonga (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
World Cup Performance
South Africa National Rugby Union Team History
1891 saw the first game for the South Africa national rugby union team when they lost 4-0 against a touring team from the British Isles. By the early 1900s, South Africa were already showing signs of being a superpower in rugby, regularly beating the ‘Home Nations’ when touring.
Having been banned from competing in the 1987 and 1991 World Cup, they were reinstated to International rugby in 1992 following Apartheid, and the Springboks hosted the tournament in 1995. The final went to extra time before they eventually overcame New Zealand 15-12 to lift the Webb Ellis trophy, presented that year to winning captain Francois Pienaar by Nelson Mandela. That win for the ‘rainbow nation’ remains one of the finest World Cup games ever played.
As things stand, New Zealand are the only team in world rugby with a winning record over South Africa. In 530 official test matches, South Africa have been beaten on 174 occasions, remarkably, 61 of them have come at the hands of New Zealand – that’s 35% of their all-time losses! They will be desperate to avoid the All Blacks in the quarter-finals this year.
South Africa Rugby Players
There is added pressure when representing the defending champions at a World Cup. Three titles in seven attempts is a strong record, though they have never retained their crown.
It would be a massive shock if they were not to make the quarter-final stage at least, but can they progress any further with either the hosts France or the All Blacks looming?
Below is our predicted South Africa national rugby union team squad for the upcoming warm-up games for the 2023 World Cup. The final squad that will head to France should come from this group of players.
- Prop – Thomas du Toit
- Prop – Ox Nche
- Prop – Steven Kitshoff
- Prop – Kendrick Uys
- Hooker – Malcolm Marx
- Hooker – Bongi Mbonambi
- Lock – Lood de Jager
- Lock – Eben Etzebeth
- Lock – Marco van Staden
- Lock – Ruhan Nel
- Flanker – Pieter-Steph du Toit
- Flanker – Franco Mostert
- Flanker – Siya Kolisi (captain)
- Number 8 – Kwagga Smith
- Number 8 – Deon Fourie
- Scrum half – Faf de Klerk
- Scrum half – Herschel Jantjies
- Fly half – Handre Pollard
- Fly half – Elrigh Louw
- Fly half – Manie Libbok
- Centre – Damian de Allende
- Centre – Jesse Kriel
- Centre – Lukhanyo Am
- Centre – Kurt-Lee Arendse
- Winger – Makazole Mapimpi
- Winger – Cheslin Kolbe
- Winger – Dylan Richardson
- Fullback – Willie le Roux