RWC … The business end

It may not be quarter final time yet, but the business end of the Rugby World Cup is without doubt upon us, with at least three of the weekend’s fixtures being pool deciders.

The Boks take on Samoa on Friday in a fairly crucial Pool D decider. Lose and the Boks could be heading home, win and they top the log to face any of Australia, Ireland or Italy!

Yep, Pool C is a real scramble … Australia will go top after their mismatch against Russia, but then Ireland could sneak ahead of them if they beat Italy. Lose to Italy, though, and it’s home time for the irish, and a semi final against the Boks for Mallett’s marauders!

Unless, of course, the Irish score four tries and lose by less than seven while the Italians do not get a fourth try!! In consequential me thinks as the Irish should dispatch the Italians with relative ease …

Key final pool matches:

Friday, South Africa v Samoa, 09:30
Saturday, France v Tonga, 07:00
Saturday, England v Scotland, 09:30
Sunday, Ireland v Italy, 09:30

So to Friday morning then …

Rationally speaking, and going by the latest IRB rankings, this match sees the 2nd best team in the world take on the 8th best team. The Boks have played Samoa six times before with South Africa winning all six matches, by an average margin of 42 points. So the Boks should take this with relative ease, and I think they will …

The cliché, though, suggests that games are not played on paper, and I would suggest not on the IRB ranking ladder either, with factors such as pressure, passion, injuries, referees, weather and sheer bloody mindedness all playing their part …

Sport24 colleague, Chief Writer Rob Houwing suggests Beast Mtawarira v Census Johnston, Fourie du Preez v Kahn Fotuali’I, and JP Pietersen v Alesana Tuilagi as the key matchups, and one could easily add Tusi Pisi vs Morne Steyn, Seilala Mapusua vs Jaque Fourie and George Stowers vs Pierre Spies to that mix … CLICK HERE for a gallery of all the mentioned match ups.

It’s no wonder some pundits are saying it could be close …

With many of the Samoan players plying their trade in Europe and New Zealand, it is amazing to see that experience improve the structure, patience and set pieces – things that were not part of their game until very recently.

But this is a very strong Bok side who seem to be finding their feet at the right time in the tournament. I would have been inclined to start with Hougaard ahead of Habana, but having the former on the bench is a big asset for Peter de Villiers.

The key will be to starve the Samoans of ball, turn them round with precision kicks from both Du Preez and Steyn, attack them in the lineout using Matfield, and get the upper hand on their scrum. Add a dollop of patience and a water tight defence that will frustrate the hell out of the Samoans, and this should be plain sailing for the Boks …

Below the stats and facts surrounding the game:

South Africa v Samoa, North Harbour Stadium, North Shore – 09:30

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

Samoa: 15 Paul Williams, 14 David Lemi, 13 Seilala Mapusua, 12 Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 George Stowers, 7 Maurie Faasavalu, 6 Taiasina Tuifua, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Daniel Leo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Mahonri Schwalger (captain), 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Substitutes: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Ofisa Treviranus, 20 Filipo Lavea Levi, 21 Junior Poluleuligaga, 22 George Pisi.


  • The starting line-up has 723 caps
  • The oldest player is Victor Matfield (34 Years)
  • The youngest player is Pat Lambie (20 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 (2.01 m)
  • The shortest player is Pat Lambie (1.77 m)
  • The average weight of the forwards is 116 kg
  • The average weight of the backs is 95 kg


  • Friday’s match is South Africa’s 29th in Rugby World Cup tournaments. Of the previous 28, only three were lost for a winning percentage of 89.3%, the best by any participant in this tournament.
  • So far South Africa scored 114 tries in Rugby World Cup tournaments and is currently on 987 points, 13 points short of 1 000 RWC points.
  • South Africa and Samoa have met on six occasions – three of those meetings at the Rugby World Cup. The last match between the teams was at the 2007 tournament when South Africa won, 59-7. Twelve of Friday’s match 22 played in that match in Paris, in which Bryan Habana scored four tries.


  • 13/04/1995: South Africa won 60-8 in Johannesburg.
  • 10/06/1995: South Africa won 42-14 in Johannesburg.
  • 06/07/2002: South Africa won 60-18 in Pretoria.
  • 01/11/2003: South Africa won 60-10 in Brisbane.
  • 09/06/2007: South Africa won 35-8 in Johannesburg.
  • 09/09/2007: South Africa won 59-7 in Paris.


  • Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks for the 17th time. Of the previous 16 tests, South Africa have won 11 for a win percentage of 68.75. Victor will play in his 109th test match to join John Smit as the most capped Springbok.
  • Should John Smit be used it will be his 110th test and his 16th in RWC tournaments, equalling Os du Randt’s Springbok record. John has played all his Rugby World Cup tests consecutively. The record for most consecutive RWC tests is 18 and is held by Martin Johnson of England.
  • Bryan Habana is the top try scorer in tests for South Africa with 39 tries in 72 tests. He shares the Springbok record for career tries in Rugby World Cups with Jaque Fourie, both on nine career tries.
  • Jaque Fourie holds the Springbok record for most career tries as a centre with 28. He shares with Jean de Villiers the record as the most capped Springbok centre with 56 caps. And shares with Bryan Habana the Springbok record for most tries in Rugby World Cup tournaments with nine.
  • Morne Steyn needs four points to reach 400 points in tests career. He is currently the leading points scorer in this tournament with 48 points. He will appear in his 21st consecutive test match.
  • Danie Rossouw made his Rugby World Cup debut in 2003 and with six tries in tournaments he is now the Springbok record holder for tries by a forward.
  • Schalk Burger is South Africa’s most capped flank forward with 64 tests and shares the Springbok try scoring record for a flank with Juan Smith with 11 tries each.
  • Pierre Spies is South Africa’s top try scorer in tests as a No 8 with seven tries.
  • Gurthrö Steenkamp is South Africa’s top try scorer as a prop in tests with six tries.
  • Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis will play together for a 19th time.

Peter de Villiers match record is as follows: 45 test matches of which 28 were won with 17 losses for a win percentage of 62.2.

Titimaea Tafua made his Samoa Coaching debut in 2009 against Japan. His match record is 22 test matches with 11 wins and 11 losses for a win percentage of 50. Under his guidance Samoa won their first IRB Pacific Nations Cup in 2010.

South Africa’s first match at this venue was last Thursday against Namibia, which was won 87-0.

Nigel Owens of Wales made his International Test debut in the match between Ireland and Japan in 2005 in Osaka. Since then he officiated as referee on six occasions with the Springboks involved. Of the six tests, South Africa won 4 and lost 2.

Now go and tell your boss about that massively important dentist appointment at Friday at 09h30 that you “Forgot” about …



  1. Has anyone noticed that the Welsh referee Nigel Owens has more than a passing interest in seeing the Springboks win so that Wales go through ?

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