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Ben Smith v Jan de Koning: Who won this face-off?

REACTION: With 2023 running to its obligatory conclusion, we revisit one of the most captivating contests of the year.


In the wake of South Africa’s 12-11 World Cup win over New Zealand at Stade de France in Paris on October 28, Jan de Koning (Rugby365) and Ben Smith (RugbyPass) went head-to-head.

@king365ed selected his all-time Springbok XV from the four teams that lifted the Webb Ellis Cup (in 1995, 2007, 2019 and 2023), while @bensmithrugby named his All Black selection based on the teams that won (in 1987, 2011 and 2015).

It created quite a debate and we now bring you the readers’ reaction – some of it reasoned and calculated, others with a tinge of humour and some just missing the brief altogether.

The more amusing readers all suggested there would be a one-point win – the likes of Carlo Van Eeden, Darryn Eggersglusz, Raamy Schroeder and Johan Kruger.

Brian Eli Kamu found sarcasm to be his best form of wit and suggested the TMO would be the winner.

Maybe he is a disgruntled All Black fan, or as Ken Borland said: ‘If Jan de Koning’s team wins, Ben Smith will complain about and moan about something.”


Fella Kae suggested the team that has won two World Cups against the other team in the Finals [read South Africa over New Zealand ni 1995 and 2023] will win.

Benji Gane said both Ben Smith and Jan de Koning named “amazing teams”, but it’s the No.10, No.12 and No.13 of the All Blacks that give them the edge.

Like Johan Janse van Vuuren and Charl Botes, many readers wanted to know who the coaches would be.

Victor Fernandes Snr said it is ‘too tough to call’.


And then some wanted to change the teams because they didn’t agree with either Ben Smith or Jan de Koning’s selections.

Some even felt non-World Cup players – like Corné Krige, Frank Bunce, Danie Gerber, Tana Umaga and Nicki Boje – should have been included.

Below is the social media face-off between @bensmithrugby and @king365ed – read and enjoy!

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