Rassie reveals Bok team for All Blacks clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Springboks will field an unchanged 23 for the first time since the last World Cup for their opening match of the 2019 version in Yokohama on Saturday.
Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby, on Wednesday named the same starting XV and eight replacements that defeated Japan, 41-7, in Kumagaya two weeks ago for the eagerly awaited clash against New Zealand, saying the Boks have found “some consistency and some momentum in a number of ways this season”.
No.8 Duane Vermeulen will be appearing in his 50th Test as one of 22 players who will, in fact, be appearing in their fourth match together this season.
🇿🇦 BREAKING: Bok 23 unchanged for RWC opener
1⃣st time since 2015’s RWC semi-final
5⃣0⃣th Test for Big Duane Vermeulen
— Springboks (@Springboks) September 18, 2019
The combination also fought to a 16-16 draw with the same opposition in Wellington before beating Argentina, 46-13, in Salta on their way to the Rugby Championship title. The one exception is fit-again captain Siya Kolisi, who replaced Kwagga Smith to lead the side out against Japan.
The last time South Africa named an unchanged 23 was 51 matches ago – against New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup semifinal. The combination had beaten Wales 23-19 in the quarterfinal, only to lose at Twickenham by two points a week later.
Vermeulen, who made his debut in 2012, will win his 50th cap in a starting XV with three other half-centurions (Willie le Roux, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth) while there are a further three on the bench (Tendai Mtawarira, Francois Louw and Frans Steyn).
Only three of the starting XV have played fewer than 25 tests (Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi) while only replacement scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies was not capped before this season.
This is the fifth meeting between the teams at the World Cup. The Springboks won the 1995 Final and 1999 bronze medal match while New Zealand took the 2003 quarterfinal and 2015 semifinal.
Apart from New Zealand’s comfortable 29-9 win in Melbourne in 2003, the margin of victory in the other three matches was by four points or fewer. Similarly, the last four matches in the Rugby Championship between these teams has been decided by two points or fewer.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel.
Date: Saturday, September 21
Venue: International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama City
Kick-off: 18.45 (21.45 NZ time; 11.45 SA time; 09.45 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)