The experienced trio of Willie le Roux, Faf de Klerk and Franco Mostert are back in the Springbok starting team for Saturday’s Test against France at the Stade de France in Paris.
The match in the French capital is South Africa’s second fixture of the 2018 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to the United Kingdom and France and kicks off at 22h05 (SA time).
The inclusion of Le Roux, De Klerk and Mostert – with close to 100 Test caps between them – are the only changes announced by Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, to the run-on team when he confirmed the Springbok match-23 on Thursday.
Le Roux takes over the No 15 duties from Damian Willemse while De Klerk comes in at scrumhalf to replace Ivan van Zyl, with the rest of the backline kept unchanged.
Mostert replaces Eben Etzebeth, who sustained a foot injury in last weekend’s 12-11 loss to England at Twickenham, in the only change to the pack.
With the availability of the Boks’ European-based players, Erasmus also announced three changes to the replacements. Vincent Koch (prop), Francois Louw (loose forward) and Cheslin Kolbe (utility back) are set to provide impact off the bench.
“It’s good to have the experienced players back in the starting team for France,” said Erasmus.
“I thought Damian and Ivan did very well last week against England but you need as much experience as possible playing away from home. We are building squad depth for the Rugby World Cup and they will be back in the mix as the tour progresses.”
Etzebeth was not considered because of the injury he picked up against the English, which forced him to leave the field early at Twickenham.
“We believe it would be better not to rush Eben back as we still have two Tests left on the tour after the match against France,” said Erasmus.
“Franco has started in eight of our 11 Tests this year and he starts with Pieter-Steph du Toit, who is obviously also a good option to move to loose forward later in the match.”
The Bok mentor described France as a dangerous side, and said the home side will provide the Springboks with formidable opposition on Saturday.
“The French are very physical and skilful, and we will have to be good on defence and also be disciplined,” said Erasmus.
“The conditions here in the northern hemisphere demand a different approach and while we created a lot of opportunities last week we have to better with our execution.”
The Springbok team to face France in Paris (in order of name, surname, province, Test caps, Test points):
15. Willie le Roux (Wasps, England, 50, 60 – 12t)
14. Sbu Nkosi (Cell C Sharks , 4, 15 – 3t)
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 37, 50 – 10t)
12. Damian de Allende (DHL Western Province, 34, 20 – 4t)
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (Xerox Golden Lions, 10, 30 – 6t)
10. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 36, 299 – 3t, 55c, 55p, 3d)
9. Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England, 20, 15 – 3t)
8. Warren Whiteley (Xerox Golden Lions, 22, 15 – 3t)
7. Duane Vermeulen (Unattached, 43, 15 – 3t)
6. Siya Kolisi (captain, DHL Western Province, 38, 25 – 5t)
5. Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England, 26, 5 – 1t)
4. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Western Province, 43, 20 – 4t)
3. Frans Malherbe (DHL Western Province, 26, 0)
2. Malcolm Marx (Xerox Golden Lions, 21, 20 – 4t)
1. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Western Province, 34, 5 – 1t)
16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Western Province, 23, 10 – 2t)
17. Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks, 6, 0)
18. Vincent Koch (Saracens, England, 10, 0)
19. RG Snyman (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 9, 0)
20. Francois Louw (Bath Rugby, England, 62, 45 – 9t)
21. Embrose Papier (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 5, 0)
22. Elton Jantjies (Xerox Golden Lions, 30, 223 – 2t, 42c, 43p)
23. Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, France, 4, 10 – 2t)
The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 444. There are 191 caps in the backline with 253 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 149 caps.
The average caps per player in the backline are 27, the forwards are 32 while the players on the bench average 19. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
Handré Pollard needs one point to reach 300 career points in Test rugby. Should he score 14 points or more in this Test, he will surpass Naas Botha’s career record of 312 points and will move up to fourth position on the all-time point scoring list for South Africa.
The Springboks’ first Test at the Stade de France was the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against England on 24 October 1999, which South Africa won by 44-21 in front of approximately 77,000 fans.
Jannie de Beer scored 34 points through two conversions, five penalty goals and a world record of five drop goals.
The Springboks played their first Test match against France at the Stade de France two years later, on 10 November 2001. South Africa lost 10-20 in front of 70,000 spectators.
To date, South Africa has played eight Test matches at the Stade de France. The record is: P: 8; W: 6; L: 2; PF: 199; PA: 113; TF: 15; TA: 8; Average score: 25-14; Win%: 75%.
Of the above-mentioned eight Tests, four were against France. The record: P: 4; W: 2; L: 2; PF: 67; PA: 73; TF: 6; TA: 7.
The Springboks’ top scorers at the Stade de France are Percy Montgomery (54 points, 9 conversions and 12 penalty goals), JP Pietersen (three tries) and Jannie de Beer (5 drop goals).
The match records are held by Jannie de Beer (34 points, 5 penalty goals and 5 drop goals), JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana (2 tries each).
Overall record against France:
South Africa’s overall record against France is: P: 43; W: 26; L: 11; D: 6; PF: 910; PA: 636; TF: 103; TA: 57; Average score: 21-15. Win%: 60%.
South Africa’s biggest win against France (42 points) was in 1997 at the Parc des Princes in Paris, when the Springboks ran in seven tries with the final score 52-10. On that day, Pieter Rossouw scored four tries, only the second Springbok to score four tries in a Test match at the time.
The Springboks’ biggest loss against France was on 9 November 2002 in Marseilles when South Africa lost by 10-30.
The referee is Nigel Owens of Wales, the most experienced referee in the world, carrying the whistle in 85 Test matches.
To date, Nigel Owens has refereed 17 Test matches involving the Springboks, of which South Africa won 10 and lost seven for a 59% win rate.
The assistant referees are Matthew Carley and Tom Foley, and Rowan Kitt is the TMO. All three are from England.