My weekend picks …

Game one done and dusted … And while the All Blacks were pretty slick in the first half, it was the haka face off and free flowing tears from the Tongans during the anthem that did it for me … This is a GREAT tournament …

So as expected, no real surprises in the Bok side announced to play Wales. The game plan has been decided, and the bed made … They have gone with a full front row on the bench, and thus a 5/2 split, though, which did work for them in PE. I think it leaves a team slightly vulnerable to an early injury to a backline player, and limits using the likes of Hougaard and James as impact players (lest the team suffer an injury), but in Beast and Gurthro the Boks have two excellent loosehead props, and this way they do not have to leave either of them out. But given that neither of them can play tighthead (and thankfully the experiment with Smit moving to prop seems to be over), it means that CJ has to be on the bench. So in a way, their hands are almost forced … But I know Rassie is a big fan of the full front row on the bench so perhaps this is one of his influences …

Of concern has to be the injuries to both Matfield and Schalk, the latter having not played a minute of rugby since the Super15 because of a broken thumb. And the fact that the Boks have not scored a try in 161 minutes of rugby … But as Dick Muir says  “It’s not a great stat, but scoring the most tries does not mean you win the match” …

Couple of troops in the Welsh side that I have never heard of to be honest, with injuries to Stephen Jones and Gethin Jenkins forcing Warren Gatland’s hand … The Boks should be able to handle the singing coal miners with relative ease, but we all know what complacency can do …

Oh, and yes, the Currie Cup continues … Here’s hoping my World Cup picks are a darn sight better than my Currie Cup picks to date …

Rugby World Cup:

New Zealand v Tonga – 9 Sep 10:30     
My prediction: New Zealand by 38

Scotland v Romania – 10 Sep 03:00   
My prediction: Scotland by 22

Fiji v Namibia – 10 Sep 05:30     
My prediction: Fiji by 6

France v Japan – 10 Sep 08:00   
My prediction: France by 27

Argentina v England – 10 Sep 10:30   
My prediction: England by 7

Australia v Italy – 11 Sep 05:30   
My prediction: Australia by 18

Ireland v USA – 11 Sep 08:00    
My prediction: Ireland by 26

South Africa v Wales – 11 Sep 10:30   
My prediction: South Africa by 9

CLICK HERE for the weekend’s RWC team sheets


Currie Cup:


Golden Lions v Griquas, Johannesburg 19:10
My prediction: Lions by 11


Sharks v Pumas, Durban 15:00

My prediction: Sharks by 12

Western Province v Leopards, Cape Town 16:00
My prediction: Western Province by 34

Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls, Bloemfontein 17:05
My prediction: Blue Bulls by 5

CLICK HERE for the weekend’s CC team sheets


More on Sunday’s action …
South Africa v Wales, Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington – 10:30
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)

South Africa: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Johann Muller, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Butch James

Wales: 15 James Hook, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Paul James
Bench: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Tavis Knoyle, 21 Scott Williams, 22 Leigh Halfpenny


And for the stats freaks, some crackers from the SARU team:

  • The starting lineup has 815 combined caps (Most experienced team of all time)
  • The oldest player is Victor Matfield (34 Years)
  • The youngest player is Francois Hougaard (23 Years)
  • The heaviest player is CJ van der Linde (123 kg)
  • The lightest player is Fourie du Preez (88 kg)
  • The tallest player is Victor Matfield (2.01m)
  • The shortest player is Francois Hougaard (1.79 m)
  • The average weight of the forwards is 114 kg
  • The average weight of the backs is 97 kg


John Smit will captain the Springboks for a World record 80th time. It will also be his 13th test in RWC tournaments and 8th as captain. John made his RWC debut in 2003 against Uruguay as a replacement hooker. He will also extend his Springbok record of most capped hooker to 92 caps. He and Victor Matfield become the most capped Springboks against Wales with their 10th appearances. In his previous 9 appearances John captained the side on 8 occasions.

Victor Matfield, South Africa’s most capped player will play in his 108th test. He is also the most capped lock of all time. In this test match, he will become the most capped player in all matches for the Springboks with his 112th appearance in the Springbok jersey. It will be his 12th test in RWC tournaments. He and John Smit become the most capped Springboks against Wales with their 10th appearances. Should South Africa win this test match, Victor will become the Springbok with most test wins in a career. Currently he shares the record with Percy Montgomery on 67 wins.

Jean de Villiers will play in his 70th test for South Africa and will extend his Springbok record to 56 tests as a centre. Jean and Jaque Fourie will extend their Springbok record of most capped centre pairing in the starting lineup to 25. In this team Jean is the top try scorer against Wales and should he score a try in this test he will equal the career record of Joost van der Westhuizen of 6 career tries against Wales.

Jaque Fourie will play in his 65th test for South Africa and holds the Springbok record for most career tries as a centre (26). Jaque and Jean de Villiers will extend their Springbok record of most capped centre pairing in the starting lineup to 25. With 7 tries in RWC tournaments he is only one try behind Bryan Habana’s Springbok record for most tries in RWC tournaments.

Bryan Habana will play in his record 70th test as a wing for South Africa. He also shares the Springbok try scoring record with Joost van der Westhuizen with 38 career tries. Bryan made his RWC debut in 2007 and equaled the try scoring record of Jonah Lomu of New Zealand for most tries in one tournament (8).

Danie Rossouw made his RWC debut in 2003 and with four tries in RWC tournaments needs one try to equal Juan Smith’s record for most RWC career tries by a Springbok forward.

Schalk Burger is South Africa’s most capped flank forward with 61 tests.

Pierre Spies is South Africa’s top try scorer in tests as a No 8 with 7 tries.

Bismarck du Plessis shares the Springbok record for most test tries as a hooker with James Dalton and John Smit (5). Should he appear, Bismarck and his brother, Jannie will be playing together in their record 17th test. The previous record for brothers together in tests was 8 tests by the Du Plessis brothers, Carel and Michael between 1984 and 1989.

Butch James is South Africa’s most capped flyhalf with 37 tests. He played in 6 of the 7 tests during the World Cup tournament in France in 2007. He scored 40 points in only two tests against Wales and needs two penalties to equal Percy Montgomery’s record of 10 career penalties against Wales.

Morné Steyn needs two points to reach 350 test points in this, his 30th test.

Willem Alberts made his Springbok debut against Wales last year as a replacement flanker and scored his first test try after only 4 minutes on the pitch.

The following players will make their RWC debut: Heinrich Brüssow, Tendai Mtawarira, Pierre Spies and Morné Steyn and should they be used as a substitute, Willem Alberts and Francois Hougaard.

Eighteen players of the Springbok squad have previous RWC experience while eight players in the Wales squad have played in previous RWC tournaments.


  • This will be South Africa’s 400th test match since 1891.
  • South Africa need 8 more points to reach 9 000 test points.
  • This will be South Africa’s 25th test match in RWC tournaments.
  • South Africa have never lost their opening Test match at RWC.
  • This will be the first meeting between South Africa and Wales in a RWC tournament.
  • Should South Africa win this test match it will be the 13th consecutive win against Wales, equaling their record of consecutive wins against Argentina.

HEAD TO HEAD – Last 5 matches

07/06/2008         South Africa won 43-17 in Bloemfontein.
14/06/2008         South Africa won 37-21 in Pretoria.
08/11/2008         South Africa won 20-15 in Cardiff.
05/06/2010         South Africa won 34-31 in Cardiff.
13/11/2010         South Africa won 29-25 in Cardiff.

Peter de Villiers made his Springbok coaching debut on 7 June 2008 against Wales in Bloemfontein. That match was won by South Africa 43-17. Peter has coached the team in 43 test matches of which 26 have been won and 17 lost for a winning percentage of 60.47. Under his reign five tests have been played against Wales of which the Springboks have won all with an average score of 33-22.

Warren Gatland made his debut as coach of Wales on 2 February 2008 against England. Wales beat England, in what was regarded as an upset win, by 26-19. Warren has also coached his team in 43 tests of which 21 have been won with one drawn match and 21 losses for a winning percentage of 48.84%.

South Africa have played 5 tests at this venue without winning. All 5 tests were against New Zealand. Wales has never played at this venue before.

Wayne Barnes of England made his test debut as a referee in 2006 during the Pacific Five Nations tournament. He has officiated as referee in 6 tests involving the Springboks. South Africa have won 3 of those tests and lost 3. The opponents were Australia (3), Argentina, France and Tonga. He officiated as referee in 8 tests involving Wales of which Wales have won 4 and lost 4.

The waiting is finally over … Time to break out the beer, billies, and boerrie …. Enjoy!!