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2023 Rugby World Cup
England v South Africa
Stade de France
Saturday, 21 October 2023
Kick-off is at 21h00
South Africa will look to take a step closer towards defending their title when they face England in the semi-finals of the 2023 Rugby World Cup
at the Stade de France on Saturday, October 21.
The Springboks had to dig deep to overcome hosts France in the quarter-finals on October 15 as they battled back from behind twice to emerge 29-28 victors.
Jacques Nienaber's side were trailing 25-19 with 14 minutes left to play when Eben Etzebeth powered over the tryline and Handre Pollard converted before slotting a penalty from just inside his own half to seal the win despite Thomas Ramos reducing the deficit to one from the tee,
England, who lost to the Boks in the 2019 final, aren't expected to pose them as much of a challenge, but Nienaber is wary of writing off their semi-final opponents and admits there are aspects of their game against Les Bleus that needs to be addressed.
Suggested photo: Eben Etzebeth of South Africa
"The French in France, you look at their consistency, they've been a proper team building with good individuals. We knew it would be a proper Test match. All the other quarter-finals were won and lost in the last minutes of the game," he said.
"There are a lot of things where we got stuff wrong [against France]. The quick tap (that led to Etzebeth's crucial try) we've been working on for some time and we've not had an opportunity to use it.
"So we have been working on things, but still there are a lot of things we weren't awesome at. But that's probably the pressure of a knockout game. There's a lot of stuff we need to fix."
The English had by far an easier draw and cleared their major obstacle, Argentina, without too much effort after coming away with a 27-10 victory.
Steve Borthwick's side have yet to be seriously tested in the tournament, although Fiji gave them a scare in the quarter-finals before six points from the boot of Owen Farrell in the final eight minutes secured a 30–24 win.
England weren't viewed as title contenders ahead of the World Cup and few are rating their chances against South Africa, but defensive coach Kevin Sinfield insists it will only motivate the players even more to win.
Suggested photo: Owen Farrell of England
"We were thought of as outsiders back in August - we took it on the chin," Sinfield said. "I think throughout this five or six weeks together, we've made huge improvements and we know we need to be hugely improved again at the weekend to get the job done.
"Some guys will use it at motivation but I think others will want to win because they want to win, so there's probably a mix of personalities and motivations, whether it's through fear or joy, you get a mixture of the two.
"I think the individuals will know which buttons they need to press for themselves. They've worked incredibly hard this last 19 weeks and I look forward to watching them go on Saturday."
Matches - 45
England - 16
South Africa - 27
Draws - 2
Springbok team to face England in Paris:
15 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 37 caps, 56 pts (4t, 9c, 4p, 2d)
14 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – 13 caps, 65 pts (13t)
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 66 caps, 75 pts (15t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 76 caps, 55 pts (11t)
11 – Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath) – 29 caps, 91 pts (14t, 3c, 5p)
10 – Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers) – 13 caps, 84 pts (1t, 26c, 9p)
9 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 30 caps, 60 pts (12t)
8 – Duane Vermeulen (SA Rugby) – 74 caps, 15 pts (3t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 74 caps, 40 pts (8t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Racing 92) – 81 caps, 50 pts (10t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 71 caps, 15 pts (3t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 117 caps, 30 pts (6t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 67 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 66 caps, 65pts (13t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (Ulster) – 81 caps, 10 pts (2t)
16 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 11 caps, 10 pts (2t)
17 – Ox Nche (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 26 caps, 0 pts
18 – Vincent Koch (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 48 caps, 0pts
19 – RG Snyman (Munster) – 32 caps, 5pts (1t)
20 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 38 caps, 35 pts (7t)
21 – Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) – 53 caps, 48 pts (5t, 4c, 5p)
22 – Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers) – 68 caps, 678 pts (7T, 95C, 146P, 5D)
23 – Willie le Roux (Vodacom Bulls) – 91 caps, 75 pts (15t)
Stats and facts:
Springbok record against England:
Played: 45; Won 27; Lost 16; Drawn 2; Points for 972; Points against 769; Tries scored: 88; Tries against: 58; Highest score: 58-10; Biggest win 48 points. Win percentage 60%.
- It will be Eben Etzebeth’s 11th Test match against England, joining Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit and Joost van der Westhuizen all in second place. Four other Springboks are on a record 12 career caps against England.
- The loose trio of Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen will start as combination for the 15th time, putting them alone in second place on the list behind Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Vermeulen (17).
- Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert will move into third place on the list of lock combinations with their 26th start as second row partners, behind Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha (63), and Etzebeth and Lood de Jager (39).
- Handré Pollard has scored seven conversions (second place) in his six appearances against England but holds the record with 19 penalty goals.
- Saturday's semi-final is the sixth RWC clash between the Boks and England. South Africa won in the 1999 quarter-final (44-21) in Paris; the pool game (36-0) and final (15-6) in 2007, both in Paris; and the final (32-12) in Yokohama in 2019. England won the pool game in Perth in 2003 (25-6).
- Kurt-Lee Arendse starts the match with a full-house of tries, with 13 five-pointers in in 13 Tests to date.
- This will be the fourth time the Springboks and England clash in a Rugby World Cup match in Paris, after the playoff in 1999 and two encounters in 2007.
- England have scored just one try across their five meetings with South Africa in the RWC – during their 25-6 pool win in 2003.
- South Africa (8.0) and England (8.6) have conceded fewer penalties per game than any other sides to have reached the semi-finals of this year’s Rugby World Cup, with only France and Japan (7 each) averaging fewer overall.
- The Springbok starting team on Saturday will be the most experienced ever selected for South Africa with a combined total of 895 Test caps - four more than the 891 against Samoa in Birmingham in 2015.
- There are 264 caps in the backline, with 631 caps among the forwards. On the bench there are a further 367 caps.
- The average caps per player in the backline is 37, the forwards 78, while the players on the bench average 45.
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