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Record-Setting Squad for World Cup Semi-final Clash with England

Record-Setting Squad for World Cup Semi-final Clash with England

Unprecedented Experience

In a move that underscores their commitment to experience and stability, South African coach Jacques Nienaber has named an unchanged match-day 23 to face England in the World Cup semi-final, scheduled for this Saturday in Paris. This decision has led to the creation of the most experienced Springbok squad in history, boasting a combined total of 895 caps. A significant 15 of the 23 players featured in the 2019 World Cup final against England, in which the Springboks secured a resounding 32-12 victory.

Notably, this marks only the second occasion that Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus have chosen an identical starting lineup in the 64 Tests they’ve overseen since taking charge of the team in 2018. The first instance occurred in the opening match of the 2019 tournament, a game that saw the Springboks falling to New Zealand 23-13.

Read also: South Africa’s Convincing Victory Over Romania at the Rugby World Cup

Key Lineup Decisions

Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach will once again assume their roles at half-back, while World Cup winners Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk will be on the bench, as they were during the dramatic 29-28 quarter-final victory over the host nation, France.

The center pairing for this crucial encounter will comprise Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel, while the back three will feature Cheslin Kolbe, Kurt-Lee Arendse, and Damian Willemse.

In the forward pack, the trio of Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, and Bongi Mbonambi will anchor the front row, with locks Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert providing support. The loose trio consists of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, and Duane Vermeulen.

The replacements’ bench will include forwards Deon Fourie (hooker/flanker), Ox Nche, Vincent Koch (props), RG Snyman (lock), and Kwagga Smith (loose forward). Additionally, three backs will be available for substitutions: Faf de Klerk (scrum-half), Handre Pollard (fly-half), and Willie le Roux (fullback).

Coaching Insights

Coach Nienaber acknowledged the difficulty of selecting a squad from a pool of 33 talented players, emphasizing the intense competition for positions and the players’ consistent form as the primary factors in his decision.

“We’ve been building a quality Rugby World Cup squad for the last few years so that we could be in this position going into the knockout matches,” said Nienaber. “But we feel it’s now time to go with the players in the squad who we believe are in their best form.”

With eight players in the starting lineup having experienced the 2019 final against England and another seven on the bench, Nienaber recognizes the significance of this shared experience. “These players have been here before, and they know what it will take to defeat a top-quality team such as England,” he remarked.

However, Nienaber remains cautious about underestimating their English opponents, who have recently achieved five consecutive victories and possess a formidable combination of a quality pack and world-class backs. He asserted, “Those who are writing them off are making a major mistake.”

“This is do-or-die if either of us wants to lift the trophy next week, so neither side will give an inch,” Nienaber concluded.

The Squad

Starting XV (15-1):

  1. Steven Kitshoff
  2. Frans Malherbe
  3. Bongi Mbonambi
  4. Eben Etzebeth
  5. Franco Mostert
  6. Siya Kolisi (capt)
  7. Pieter-Steph du Toit
  8. Duane Vermeulen
  9. Cobus Reinach
  10. Manie Libbok
  11. Damian Willemse
  12. Kurt-Lee Arendse
  13. Jesse Kriel
  14. Cheslin Kolbe
  15. Damian De Allende

Replacements:

  1. Deon Fourie
  2. Ox Nche
  3. Vincent Koch
  4. RG Snyman
  5. Kwagga Smith
  6. Faf de Klerk
  7. Handre Pollard
  8. Willie le Roux

Coach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)

As South Africa prepares to take on England in the World Cup semi-final, fans and rugby enthusiasts alike eagerly await the outcome of this historic showdown. With a squad boasting unmatched experience, the stage is set for an enthralling contest that will test the mettle of both teams. The echoes of the 2019 World Cup final will resound as the Springboks seek to replicate their success and reach the ultimate stage once again.

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