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From a rugby perspective, things are going as well as expected for the Springboks as they prepare for their final Pool B match against Canada on Tuesday. Cheslin Kolbe limped off the field after the demolition of Italy on Friday with an ankle injury but X-rays have shown no damage and he was walking around with ease the following day. There’s no need for head coach Rassie Erasmus to play his star winger on Tuesday, nor two other players who had a big impact in the Italy clash – Bongi Mbonambi and Makazole Mapimpi. From a political perspective, things are not as good. Erasmus is having to put out a fire created on Twitter after a video clip of the bench players celebrating after Friday’s victory went viral. In the video Frans Steyn, who is in the celebratory huddle, is seen waving a dismissive hand as Mapimpi approaches them. The winger then turns away with a dismissive gesture of his own. As the Twitter storm crying racism over the perceived rejection of the black player by a group of white players grew, Mapimpi took to social media to explain there was nothing untoward about the incident. He explained the players who come off the bench call themselves The Bomb Squad and they have their own exclusive ritual of celebration, of which he was not a part of since he had a run-on start. Those who want to see this as racism refused to accept Mapimpi’s version of events, saying he was ordered to make the video and was protecting his job. Erasmus then dealt with the matter at a news conference, reiterating the team dynamic of the Bomb Squad and pointed out that Steyn was, in fact, waving away Lood de Jager, not Mapimpi, as the lock had started the match and was no longer a member of the Bomb Squad. The issue appears unlikely to disappear quickly and #BombSquad and #Mapimpi have been trending on Twitter for the weekend. No matter how much explaining comes from the Bok camp, in this post-truth world those who want to see racism won’t be swayed. SA Rugby may have to bring in the big gun – Siya Kolisi himself – to make an unequivocal statement to try to put this matter to rest. – David O’Sullivan
The Springboks have made 13 changes to their starting XV for Tuesday’s match against Canada in Kobe to manage the four-day turnaround between their final two Rugby World Cup pool matches.
Captain Siya Kolisi and centre Damian de Allende reappear for a second successive start while five of the replacements from the victory over Italy (49-3) on Friday are promoted to the starting line-up. They are Frans Steyn (centre), Francois Louw (loose forward), Franco Mostert and RG Snyman (both locks) and Vincent Koch (prop).
Nine of the team that defeated Namibia 57-3 in City of Toyota in the preceding match regain a starting place while Damian Willemse – who arrived as an injury replacement from the UK on Thursday – goes straight into the starting line-up at fullback.
There are also first starts at the Rugby World Cup for Thomas du Toit (prop) and Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf).
A win with a bonus point would almost certainly secure a place in the quarterfinals for the Springboks.
“A four-day turnaround between Tests is a challenge but we had planned for it and will be well prepared,” said Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby.
“This match is just as important as the three that we have already played – it has the same number of log points available and the same impact on our chances of qualifying and we have to now complete the job.
“There are a number of new combinations in our team, but we have been together for several weeks now and everyone understands our game plan and strategies. The nice thing is that at the end of the match every member of the squad will have started a Rugby World Cup match.
“But the first thing we have to focus on is winning the match and securing a place in the quarter-finals.”
There are a number of positional changes in the backline, with Sbu Nkosi switching to the left wing, Warrick Gelant starting on the right flank and De Allende being given a start at outside centre.
The versatile Du Toit starts at loose head prop, while Louw is at No 8 with Schalk Brits returning to his more usual No 2 jersey after appearing at the back of the scrum against Namibia.
A powerful looking bench includes five of the starting XV from the victory over Italy in Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Handre Pollard and Willie le Roux.
Rested completely from the squad that played Italy are Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Lukhanyo Am (centre) and Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi (wings) – who had featured in all four matches in Japan – as well as Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen and Faf de Klerk.
“Our preparations for the match have been shortened by the turnaround time but we are giving Canada the same attention we applied in the three previous matches,” said Erasmus.
The match kicks off at 12h15 (SA time) and is available on SuperSport channel 201 or SABC radio.
The Springbok team to play Canada in Kobe on Tuesday is:
- Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) 5 caps – 0 points
- Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Bulls), 8 caps – 10 (2t)
- Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), 43 – 20 (4t)
- Frans Steyn (Montpellier, France), 63 – 136 (10t, 7c, 21p, 3d)
- Sbu Nkosi (Cell C Sharks) 9 – 35 (7t), 9 – 35 (7t)
- Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions), 36 – 265 (2t, 54c, 49p)
- Cobus Reinach (Northampton, England), 13 – 15 (3t)
- Francois Louw (Bath, England), 72 – 50 (10t)
- Kwagga Smith (Emirates Lions), 5 – 0
- Siya Kolisi (captain, DHL Stormers), 46 – 30 (6t)
- Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England), 35 – 5 (1t)
- RG Snyman (Vodacom Bulls), 19 – 5 (1t)
- Vincent Koch (Saracens, England), 17 – 0
- Schalk Brits (Vodacom Bulls), 14 – 10 (2t)
- Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks), 11 – 0
- Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions), 29 – 25 (5t)
- Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), 43 – 5 (1t)
- Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), 34 – 0
- Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers), 82 – 15 (3t)
- Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), 52 – 25 (5t)
- Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), 7 – 20 (4t)
- Handre Pollard (Vodacom Bulls) 44 – 410 (6t, 70c 76p, 4d)
- Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz, Japan), 58 – 60 (12t)
Facts and Stats
- Canada have been playing international rugby since 1932 and have competed in every Rugby World Cup tournament since 1987.
- The Springboks’ first Test match against Canada, also known as the Canucks, was during the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995. The Springboks won the match at the Boet Erasmus Stadium in Port Elizabeth 20-0.
- Five years later, the second Test between the two teams took place at Waverley Park in East London when the Springboks were again the victors, the score 51-18.
- The Test match on Tuesday will feature only one Springbok who played in the Test in East London, but this time as the director of rugby of SA Rugby, Rassie Erasmus.
The complete South African record against Canada
Played 2, Won 2, Points for 71, Points against 10, Tries for 10, Tries against 2, Win % 100%
Individual match records against Canada
- Most points in a Test match: 11 (4c, 1p) by Braam van Straaten on 10 June 2000 in East London.
- Most tries in a Test match: 2 each by Adriaan Richter on 3 June 1995 in Port Elizabeth and both of Breyton Paulse and Robbie Fleck on 10 June, 2000 in East London.
- Most conversions in a Test match: 4 by Braam van Straaten on 10 June, 2000 in East London.
- The total test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 396.
- There are 177 caps in the backline with 219 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 349 caps.
- The average caps per player in the backline is 25, the forwards 27 while the players on the bench average 44.
- The average age of the starting fifteen is 27.
- Handré Pollard is the Springbok record holder for most penalty goals (26) in RWC tournaments.
- He is now also the new record holder for a Springbok with most points (115) in RWC tournaments.
- He surpassed the record of Percy Montgomery (111) in the Test against Italy on Friday.
- The referee is Luke Pearce of England. This will be his 25th Test match as a referee. He has officiated in only two of those Test matches of which one match was won and one lost.
- The Assistant referees are Angus Gardner of Australia and Andrew Brace of Ireland while Rowan Kitt from England, will be the TMO.
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