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2023 Rugby World Cup
France v South Africa
Stade de France
Sunday, 15 October 2023
Kick-off is at 21h00
Reigning world champions South Africa will continue their title defence against hosts France in the 2023 World Cup
quarter-finals at the Stade de France on Sunday, October 15.
The Springboks overcame the first hurdle as they beat Scotland, Romania and Tonga, while losing to Ireland in a closely-fought contest to finish second in Pool B.
Jacques Nienaber's side have the second-best defensive record at the tournament, giving up just 34 points from their opening four matches - bettered only by Les Bleus (32).
Kicking for goal has been an issue for the Boks on French soil, with Manie Libbok in particular struggling from the tee against Scotland and Ireland.
Handre Pollard was brought back into the team against Tonga for his first appearance of the World Cup and put in a faultless display with his boot as both he and Libbok successfully converted all seven tries.
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South Africa assistant coach Felix Jones welcomed the return of Pollard, who was initially left out of the squad due to injury, but has since been brought in as a replacement for Malcolm Marx.
"It's been great having Handre in," Jones said. "He's given us another voice in the changing room, on the field, in the meeting room.
"It's been a real pleasure having him back in; he's just picked up exactly where he left off. It's been great."
Lukhanyo Am has also returned to the fold after injury ruled him out of contention for the original 33-man squad, only to replace Makazole Mapimpi, who fractured an eye socket against Tonga.
France have received a welcome boost ahead of the clash with the news that captain Antoine Dupont was cleared to return to training this week.
Dupont required surgery after fracturing his cheekbone in the 96-0 mauling of Namibia on September 21, but has stepped up his recovery and is in contention to face the Springboks.
Fabien Galthie's side topped Pool A with a perfect record of four wins from four, having stunned New Zealand 27–13 in their opener on September 8 before going on to dispatch Uruguay, Namibia and Italy.
Alamy Stock Photo
Les Bleus arrested a seven-match losing streak against South Africa when they emerged 30–26 victors at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille 11 months ago.
France assistant coach Laurent Labit suggested they might be a bit more ambitious on this occasion after adopting a cautious approach last time out.
"We know what we're up against and who we're up against. We have a lot of respect for this team and what they've done. They're an inspiration to us in terms of what they've achieved," Labit said.
"When we played them last November we decided to close down the game and try to take as few risks as possible. We had opportunities to play but we were so stuck in the pattern that we lacked ambition.
"We took that into account. In a World Cup quarter-final will the space be there or not? The priority will be to contain this team and find the space."
Matches - 45
France - 12
South Africa - 27
Draws - 6
Springbok team to face France in Paris:
15 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 36 caps, 56 pts (4t, 9c, 4p, 2d)
14 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – 12 caps, 60 pts (12t)
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 65 caps, 75 pts (15t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 75 caps, 50 pts (10t)
11 – Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath) – 28 caps, 86 pts (13t, 3c, 5p)
10 – Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers) – 12 caps, 80 pts (1t, 24c, 9p)
9 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 29 caps, 60 pts (12t)
8 – Duane Vermeulen (SA Rugby) – 73 caps, 15 pts (3t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 73 caps, 40 pts (8t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Racing 92) – 80 caps, 50 pts (10t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 70 caps, 15 pts (3t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 116 caps, 25 pts (5t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 66 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 65 caps, 65pts (13t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (Ulster) – 80 caps, 10 pts (2t)
16 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 10 caps, 10 pts (2t)
17 – Ox Nche (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 25 caps, 0 pts
18 – Vincent Koch (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 47 caps, 0pts
19 – RG Snyman (Munster) – 31 caps, 5pts (1t)
20 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 37 caps, 35 pts (7t)
21 – Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) – 52 caps, 48 pts (5t, 4c, 5p)
22 – Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers) – 67 caps, 673 pts (7t, 94c, 145p, 5d)
23 – Willie le Roux (Vodacom Bulls) – 90 caps, 75 pts (15t)
Stats and Facts
Springbok record against France:
Played 45; Won 27; Lost 12; Drawn 6. Points for: 965, Points against: 692. Tries scored 107, Tries conceded 61. Highest score 52-10; Biggest win 42 points. Average score: 21-15. Win % 60%.
- Eben Etzebeth will equal Tendai Mtawarira’s 117 Test caps, meaning they will share third place on the list of most-capped Springboks.
- The 880 caps in the starting team is the second-most ever for the Springboks – the most experienced team, with 891 combined caps – ran out against Samoa at Rugby World Cup in 2015.
- The starting pack is the most experienced ever fielded by the Springboks sharing 623 caps. All eight have made a half century of test appearances and average 78 caps per man.
- Eight players who will feature on Sunday, played against Samoa in 2015: Willie le Roux, Damian De Allende, Handre Pollard, Duane Vermeulen and Eben Etzebeth started, with Frans Malherbe, Siya Kolisi and Jesse Kriel on the bench.
- The two replacement props, Ox Nche and Vincent Koch, are the only players in the match-23 who have not yet scored any Test points.
- Kurt-Lee Arendse enters the match with an impressive try-scoring record of 12 tries in his 12 Test matches.
- Pollard, with 665 Test points in the Springbok jersey, in in third place behind Morne Steyn (742) and Percy Montgomery (893).
- This is just the second time France and South Africa have met at the Rugby World Cup. The previous meeting was in 1995 when the Springboks edged the semifinal 19-15 in a Durban downpour.
- France (10 times) and South Africa (eight times) are two of just three teams to have reached the quarter-finals in each edition of the Rugby World Cup that they have participated in (also New Zealand, 10).
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 880.
- There are 257 caps in the backline, with 623 caps among the forwards. On the bench there are a further 359 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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