The Springboks have been a hugely successful team in the Rugby World Cup, with three wins in the seven tournaments they have entered, earning a formidable reputation at this showcase event. South Africa famously beat the All Blacks in the 1995 home final and defeated England twice in 2007 and 2019. Three world titles are most equaled by New Zealand.
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But success outside of the Rugby World Cup was far more out of reach, with just four Tri-Nation/Rugby Championship titles in 26 years of competition as they struggled to gain dominance over Australia or New Zealand. Their four titles, 1998, 2004, 2009 and 2019, have drink periods of five or more years.
The dichotomy of this contrast is that she also has the undesirable statistic of having the most wooden spoons in the annual SANZAAR tournaments: 11 since the game went professional in 1996, which is still more than Argentina , which joined the association in 2012 ten years ago. The same successful country in the world championships has achieved much less results outside of it. So what is the formula that has allowed South Africa to achieve such success at the top of the tournament despite such little return in between years?
There is no definite answer, but there is one thing in common in all three victories at the rugby world cups. In every edition of the tournament they have won, they have been able to bring in a tier two emerging nation as their quarter-final opponent. In 1995 it was Western Samoa, in 2007 it was Fiji, and in 2019 it was Japan.
These opponents are the proud nations of rugby who have contributed so much to the game by producing many quality players, many of whom are destined for other countries. But when it comes to the Rugby World Cup playoffs, every Tier 1 country will welcome this match with open arms. This is by no means a gallop, but victory is always likely for the most resourceful nations in the game, and at the same time, you can watch your biggest rivals have to face each other and get knocked out.
In 2006, the Springboks walked away five out of 12 and started 2007 with another lackluster trio of nations with one win out of four, but won the World Cup finishing fourth in the rugby world heading into the tournament. They did not need to play any other top four opponent, with first-placed New Zealand being knocked out by third-placed France, and second-placed Australia eliminating seventh-placed England.
South Africa was ranked the best in the world in 2007 after beating the 13th, 6th and 7th placed teams in three knockout games after winning the wooden spoon in the Tri-Nations. Boks has never won a World Cup without overtaking a second-tier opponent in the quarter-finals, so next year’s tournament in France will undoubtedly be the country’s greatest achievement in rugby if they win back-to-back titles in France.
A rugby world cup quarter final is expected against New Zealand, currently in third place, or host nation France, in second place, after playing pool against Ireland, currently in first place. Playing billiards against Tonga will also bring more challenges than ever before as former internationals use the new rules to switch gears while Scotland is another Tier 1 match that will force South Africa to play harder.
The Springboks would need to win four of the five Tier 1 knockout games to win the Cup and three in a row to finish, something they have never done in the Rugby World Cup 2023 playoffs. They will have to do this while overcoming the losses they have gone through in their game pool, a unique challenge that they have yet to overcome. This France Rugby World Cup will be the first since their four local teams travel to the Northern Hemisphere, creating uninterrupted seasons for their home South African players.
The overseas Boks have already done this, and now that’s it. Eben Etzebeth recently went out of his way to fully align with Europe to avoid fighting wallabies, cougars and all blacks during the off-season in Europe where he could rest.
At least now by signing the Sharks in South Africa rather than Toulon, Etzebeth can be managed during the club season to avoid exhaustion by September, but how many Sides will spend the next few months of summer rugby in both champions . Cup and United Rugby Championship.
The run on some of this group of springboks will be tough, all ahead of the brutal World Cup schedule demanding every kilojoule available. The November results, despite two defeats to Ireland and France, instilled optimism that boxing would struggle. Everyone knows that they will argue, this is nothing new.
However, the burden of proving their skill is not on the contenders, but on the Rugby World Cup winners – to prove that they are head and shoulders above the rest. They didn’t do it against the Irish and French, who would take more of those trials.
The Springboks defense was brutal against Ireland, choking out most of their attack and limiting Sexton to his worst record of the year. If there was a kicker in the park, South Africa could have won. On the other hand, Ireland were mediocre in their plans, missing out Robbie Henshaw and Bundy Ackie in midfield at number 12. For more know about Rugby World Cup Tickets.
The absence of both was as much a reason for their attack to be out of sync as it was for the South African defense to put pressure on them. Under 14 the ‘boxes’ gave a bitter fight against France losing only four points, however the home side was without the best player in the world for most of the half, the flanker played on the flank, the flank played 12, and were without their midfielder with the ball for 70+ minutes.
France has essentially shut down the store, refusing to use most of the patterns and games they’ve showcased over the past three years. Defeats left South Africa with a record of four wins in 12 Tests against the other top six nations, New Zealand (2/4), Australia (1/4), England (1/2), Ireland (0/1) and France (0 /1) for the last two seasons.
Winning the Rugby World Cup next year via a draw on death row should be South African rugby’s greatest triumph. That will mean breaking a 33 percent win rate against the top six nations, an uninterrupted game calendar, and being first without facing a second-tier nation in the playoffs. This is the one that will stand above all others in terms of difficulty and will have the highest respect.
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