In just 9 days, the world will come together to enjoy the spectacle of the rugby world cup. Hosted by strong nations England and Wales, and with the menacing threat of the All Blacks, Australia and France, some people have written off the Springboks before the tournament has even begun. Mediocre form leading up to the big day has worried a fair few. But here’s how I believe they can top their group.
Scotland, Samoa, Japan, USA. These are the nations that South Africa must defeat to stand a chance of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup. This is a tougher group than it may first appear.
Scotland are a typically tough rugby nation, and they have great form at world cups. In 1991 they finished fourth, and have reached the knockout phases of every other world cup apart from the last one in 2011.
This year they have seemingly been the most inconsistent team of them all. Earlier in the year they recorded a historic win against Australia, and even pushed New Zealand incredibly close. However, their total win percentage rate against the Springboks is just 20% (5 wins out of 25 games).
If South Africa can hold their nerve in front of capacity crowds where the Scots will way outnumber the South Africans, they have a strong chance of recording a win in the group stage.
Samoa can boast rugby legend Brian Lima (nicknamed “The Chiropractor” for his shuddering tackles) as their most capped player ever, and South Africa will need to show respect to the 12th ranked team in world rugby if they want to overcome them.
Samoa are typically warrior-like on the field, and when they tackle, they tackle hard. The Springboks are well aware of this, and have to make sure their forwards have the grit and determination that will see them take hard tackle after hard tackle.
On the 26th September the two teams meet at the historic soccer venue Villa Park. South Africa have a perfect record against Samoa (8 wins from 8 games), but they will still need to bring their A game.
Japan have registered wins against the likes of Tonga, Samoa, Scotland XV and even Wales. That may come as a surprise to many of you, but the fact is Japan are ranked 13th in the world, just one place below Samoa and only three places behind Scotland. Japan have recorded wins at one world cup (1991) and draws at two further world cups (2007 and 2011). The indication is that they are getting stronger and stronger.
What’s more is that South Africa and Japan have never played each other. So when the Springboks kick off their world cup journey on September 19th, they will be facing a side that is more of an unknown factor to them than any other team in their group.
The USA are another team who appear to be on the up and up in world rugby. Ranked 15th in the world, the USA have met South Africa just 3 times, with the Springboks recording 3 wins out of 3.
However, they have beaten Fiji, Tonga, and impressively even France in recent years. America has only just come onto the rugby scene in relative terms, and more and more people are taking up the sport across the sea, so the potential for a strong team in the future is big.
So on the overall balance of things, South Africa should top their group and progress comfortably. But it’s certainly not a done deal. They need to be wary of the toughness of Samoa, the world cup form of Scotland and the unknown quantity of Japan.
Let us know what you think the chances are of another world cup coming South Africa’s way this Summer! Please share and comment in the section below!
Article written by Josh for Life Retreat