South Africa are through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup final after clinching victory against England in the dying moments. Now, they will face New Zealand for a chance to defend their crown.
In a performance that captain Siya Kolisi described as “really ugly”, South Africa’s ‘bomb squad’ proved the key difference against England. Replacement props Ox Nche and Vincent Koch won four scrum penalties while fly-half Handre Pollard converted a late kick at goal to enable the Springboks come from behind to win 16-15.
Following the match, head coach Jacques Nienaber said that South Africa will have to accumulate close to 35 points in next Saturday’s final against the All Blacks in order to “be in the mix”.
Victory next weekend would see South Africa draw clear of New Zealand as the most decorated rugby nation – both sides currently have three tournament wins apiece. But they face an All Blacks side looking to right the wrongs of their premature semi-final exit in 2019.
At a press conference last week, New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith revealed he has been spurred on by the devastation of that 19-7 loss to England in Yokohama for the past four years.
“I remember the feeling this time four years ago; disappointed, gutted, feeling like you’d let the country down,” said the 34-year-old. “To be in this position to contend for a World Cup is just so special. We’ve taken another step in this tournament and we’re in the big dance. That’s so energising and so exciting for our team.
“I don’t think you ever get over it to be honest,” Smith added of New Zealand’s semi-final exit. “It sticks with you forever. So, no, I haven’t gotten over it and it’s been a good driver for me.”
How have South Africa fared so far?
The Springboks got their title defence off to a winning start, beating Scotland 18-3 in Marseille in the pool stages. And they followed that up by crushing Romania 76-0 in their second group game, with scrum-half Cobus Reinach scoring a hat-trick inside 25 minutes – the second-quickest in World Cup history.
This impressive start hit a speed bump as they were defeated 13-8 by Ireland in a ferocious encounter. The Boks did, however, bounce back against Tonga in their final pool match with a 49-18 victory. This meant they finished second in their group (behind the Irish) and faced hosts France in the quarter-finals. That match was one of the greatest games of rugby ever witnessed. The result eventually went the way of South Africa – by a single point. Against England, they were locked in an arm wrestle and trailed for 78 minutes, but the goal-kicking of Handre Pollard saw the Springboks seize a breathless come-back victory – again by just one point.
When will the World Cup final be played?
Saturday, October 28: New Zealand v South Africa, Stade de France – 8pm.
Who is the referee?
It has not yet been announced who will take charge of the final showpiece between New Zealand and South Africa. One referee who has been ruled out of contentions is Irishman Andrew Brace, who picked up a calf injury ahead of South Africa’s semi-final.
What television channel is showing South Africa’s matches?
ITV have exclusive broadcast rights to show the Rugby World Cup in the UK. All South Africa’s games will be broadcast on ITV1 The radio commentary of every match is available on the BBC, across Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra and the BBC Sounds service.
In South Africa, the tournament is being broadcast on SuperSport.
Who is in South Africa’s Rugby World Cup squad?
Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Malcolm Marx*, Eben Etzebeth, Jean Kleyn, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Deon Fourie, Franco Mostert.
Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams, Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse, Damian de Allende, Andre Esterhuizen, Jesse Kriel, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie, Makazole Mapimpi*, Handre Pollard**, Lukhanyo Am**.
*Ruled out due to injury, **Called up as injury replacement
Best of the latest odds
- South Africa: 21/20
- New Zealand: 9/10
Odds correct as of October 22. Having a punt? First take a look at these Rugby World Cup free bets and betting offers.