It’s quarter-final stage at the Rugby World Cup this weekend! It’s now the business end of the tournament. The Springboks are taking on Japan in their quarter-final match on Sunday. To wet your appetite for this match we take a look at how both teams have done so far in the tournament and at how previous matches between the 2 nations have gone in the past.
The match on Sunday will be the 3rd time the 2 teams meet. The 1st time was at the 2015 Rugby World Cup where Japan stunned the Springboks by beating the bokke 34-32 in their opening match in Brighton, England. This huge upset is a match that the Springboks would love to forget! The 2nd time the 2 teams met was on September 6 when they played a world cup warm-up match which the Springboks won comfortably 41-7!
Japan have had dream performances in their group matches at this year’s Rugby World Cup finishing 1st on the log in Pool A. They started off by beating Russia 30-10. They then stunned Ireland (ranked number 4 in the world) by beating them 19-12. Japan beat Samoa comfortably 38-19. They then shocked Scotland by beating them 28-21. This is the first time that Japan have progressed beyond the Pool stages in the nine Rugby World Cup tournaments that they have competed in.
South Africa had a tough start to their group matches when they came up against the no.1 ranked team New Zealand. The All Blacks beat the Springboks 23-13. They followed this up with 3 very convincing and very comfortable victories against Namibia (57-3), Italy (49-3) and Canada (66-7) to finish 2nd in Pool B.
The Springboks have gone back to the starting XV and the replacements that recorded a 49-3 victory over Italy 2 weeks ago for their do-or-die Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Japan in Tokyo on Sunday. It means 13 changes to the starting XV from the team which ended the Boks’ pool campaign with a 66-7 demolition of Canada in Kobe last Tuesday. Only Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende have been retained from that starting lineup.
“We were satisfied with the performance against Italy and want to build on that,” said coach Rassie Erasmus. “We have been improving and building momentum this season and we will be looking for further improvements this weekend. Japan are a well-coached team and have deservedly climbed to seventh in the world rankings. It’ll be a good challenge but we’re definitely up for it. When we set out on this campaign at the start of last season, one of the things we said we wanted to do was broaden and deepen the experience in the squad,” said Erasmus. “We’re now in a position where everyone in the starting XV has had a proper taste of top-level Test rugby and we’ve got a strong spine of Test experience for these high-pressure matches. You need that experience when it comes to handling the pressure situations we will face on Sunday and I think we’ve achieved that now.”
The team to meet Japan contains five players with 50 or more caps in Willie le Roux, Duane Vermeulen (who wins 50th cap as a No 8 – a Springbok record), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth and Tendai Mtawarira. There are another four players in the 40s in Siya Kolisi, Lood De Jager, Damian De Allende and Handré Pollard.
The Springboks are aiming to reach the Rugby World Cup semi-finals for the fifth time in seven appearances at the Rugby World Cup.
The winner will play either France or Wales in Yokohama on Sunday, 27 October. Back our Springboks as they aim for the Webb-Ellis trophy!
South Africa’s quarter-final against Japan kicks off at 12h15 SA time on Sunday.
The Springbok team to play Japan in is:
Willie le Roux, Chelin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira
Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn