Springboks' opponents for 2023 World Cup opener revealed
NEWS: The Springboks will kick off the defence of their World Cup crown on September 10, 2023 against Scotland in the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, it was confirmed when World Rugby officially revealed the dates and venues during a live online event in Paris on Friday.
Meanwhile, hosts France will face the All Blacks in a blockbuster opening match two days earlier on Friday, September 8.
Another mouthwatering fixture on the opening weekend sees England face Argentina on Saturday, September 9.
The defending Rugby World Cup-champion Springboks were drawn in Pool B for the next edition of the four-yearly global showpiece, to be hosted in France – where the South Africans lifted their second world crown in 2007.
A week after their opening 2023 RWC match, the Springboks will line up for their second pool match on Sunday, September 17 against a yet to be determined opponent from Europe (Europe 2) at the Stade de Bordeaux.
And another six days later, on September 23, the Boks and Ireland will clash for the first time ever at a RWC when they meet at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on the outskirts of Paris, the scene of the South Africans’ memorable triumph over England in the 2007 Final.
The Boks then return to Marseille for their last group match against an Asian-Pacific 1 qualifier in the Stade Velodrome on October 1.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber welcomed the confirmation of the 2023 RWC match dates and venues and said it will now give more direction in their advance planning for France.
“Friday’s announcement is a very important milestone in our planning phase for the 2023 Rugby World Cup,” explained Nienaber.
“With the match dates and venues now confirmed, the coaching and management staff have a very clear idea of the overall squad preparations and logistics. For instance, the schedule gives clarity on the number of turnaround days between matches, which in turn will influence our player welfare strategy for the squad.
“And because the game venues have been allocated, it means we can kick on with more intense planning around our logistic operations for items such as team base camps,” added Nienaber.
In Scotland and Ireland, the Springboks face two of world rugby’s most formidable teams in the space of 13 days in the group phase, however, Nienaber cautioned that every match will be vital in the preliminary stage.
“Like I said at the time of the draw, to be in the same pool as Ireland and Scotland will be a massive challenge, but to win the tournament, you have to be able to beat all the teams and we will be properly tested in the pool phases,” said the Springbok coach.
“The margin for error at any stage of the RWC is very small, so we will plan for every scenario, including a very tough last pools game against an Asian-Pacific qualifier which might be one of Samoa or Tonga.”
The 2023 RWC showpiece starts on Friday, September 8 and the Final is scheduled for Saturday, October 28 in the French capital of Paris.
The Springboks’ 2023 RWC Pool schedule in France (kick-off times TBC):
Sunday 10 September: Springboks vs Scotland (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
Sunday 17 September: Springboks vs Europe 2 (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
Saturday 23 September: Springboks vs Ireland (Stade de France, Saint-Denis)
Sunday 1 October: Springboks vs Asia-Pacific 1 (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
The pool phase will consist of a round robin in which each team shall play each other within the pool once. There will be 10 matches played in each pool, for a total of 40 matches in the pool phase of the tournament.
The quarterfinals will take place in Stade Velodrome in Marseille and Stade de France in Paris on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October. Stade Velodrome will host QF1 and QF3, while Stade de France will host QF2 and QF4.
The sequence of play is as follows:
QF 1 – Winner Pool C v Runner up Pool D
QF 2 – Winner Pool B v Runner up Pool A
QF 3 – Winner Pool D v Runner up Pool C
QF 4 – Winner Pool A v Runner up Pool B
Teams winning quarter-final matches qualify for the semi-finals and teams losing quarter-final matches will be eliminated from the tournament.
The semifinal matches will be contested by knock-out matches in Stade de France on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 October, as follows:
SF 1 – Winner QF1 v Winner QF2
SF 2 – Winner QF3 v Winner QF4
The winners of the semifinal matches qualify for the Final, and the losers of the semifinal matches will contest the Bronze Final.
The Bronze Final and Final will be played at Stade de France on Friday 27 October and Saturday 28 October, respectively.