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The Springboks head into this World Cup as the reigning World Champions. There is a weight of expectation from their own supporters to do it all again. South Africa are the joint most successful international team in world rugby with three World Cup titles, equal with New Zealand. The Boks will be hoping to replicate New Zealand's feat of back-to-back titles and become the outright most successful nation. The vast majority of the side that lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2019 remains. Etzebeth, Vermeulen, Kolbe, Le Roux, de Allende, Mbonambi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, de Klerk, Mapimpi, the list goes on! However, the Springboks have been hit by a plague of injuries to key positions. Fly half Handre Pollard, lock Lood de Jager and outside centre Lukhanyo Am have all been ruled out already. There is also a question mark over captain Siya Kolisi.
South Africa's greatest World Cup moment came in 1995 when Nelson Mandela handed the trophy to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar after a home World Cup victory. The moment was immortalised in Hollywood in the film Invictus where Mandela was played by Morgan Freeman and Pienaar by Matt Damon. It was an occasion which brought the Rainbow Nation together. This sense of unity was replicated when Siya Kolisi became the first black captain of South Africa to lift the trophy twenty-four years later.
The Boks are drawn on the tough side of the World Cup draw in a pool with Ireland who are the number one team in the world and the banana skin of Scotland who could beat any side on their day. South Africa are no strangers to being on the wrong side of an upset after they famously lost to Japan in the 'Miracle of Brighton' in 2015. If South Africa escape their pool, a quarter final with France or New Zealand is likely. One of the key questions for the Springboks is how quickly they can develop a new midfield. Libbok and Kriel are expected to replace Pollard and Am. They will need to hit the ground running. Although this is disruptive, South Africa's forwards are the heart beat of the squad. Physicality is instilled within the DNA of the Boks and they have immense depth at prop and at lock. The forwards off the bench are infamously known as the 'Bomb Squad' due to the destruction they bring. No doubt Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber will have a few new tricks up their sleeves when it comes to the rolling maul...
World Cup Titles
Best RWC Finish
World Rugby Ranking
(as of 27th August)
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