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'It's like an argument with your wife': Ex-Boks skipper previews Irish 'war'

By Finn Morton
Siya Kolisi of South Africa leads players of South Africa off the field through a guard of honour formed by players of Ireland after defeat during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France on September 23, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Former Springboks captain Bobby Skinstad has liked the pre-Test hype for the South Africa versus Ireland series to having “an argument with your wife” before explaining why both teams will believe they can make a statement in the two-match series.


World No. 2 Ireland haven’t beaten the Springboks in South Africa since coming away with a memorable 26-20 victory in Cape Town on 11 June 2016. The Boks won the next two Tests in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth but haven’t beaten their rivals since.

Their most recent matchup is one that won’t soon be forgotten. Thousands at Stade de France sang out ‘Zombie’ by The Cranberries last September when Ireland claimed a famous five-point win during the Rugby World Cup pool stage.

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But the Irish were met by the might of the All Blacks in the quarter-finals and were ultimately sent packing after Sam Whitelock claimed a turnover deep into final play territory. As for South Africa, they went on to claim another world title.

So, the Boks are world champs but Ireland are the team who beat them. That creates drama.

It’s like the build-up to a main event boxing bout with the amount of narratives that are being thrown around at the moment. Fans from both nations are still looking back at the sport’s showpiece event as the war of words continues.

“The nicest thing about a rivalry is it grows and it ebbs and flows according to results. South Africa can’t hide from the fact that they haven’t beaten Ireland since 2016. Ireland can’t hide from the fact that they haven’t got past a quarter-final at a World Cup,” Skinstad said on SENZ Breakfast.

“You can’t consider them as small. We feel emaciated by the fact that we haven’t been able to beat Ireland, they’re an outstanding international team and then they’ve got closing problems at a World Cup. It doesn’t make us any better or any worse, but it’s two different things.


“It’s like an argument with your wife. You want to have a beer with your mates, she wants you to stay home and they are two different things but we’ve matched them together and I love it because it creates an amazing opportunity to have different people having different opinions about a game but it all gets settled in the 80 minutes.”

Ireland were brilliant during the Six Nations. France received a red card during their matchup in the opening round of the illustrious northern hemisphere competition, but the men in green still outclassed their opponents with a headline-grabbing win.


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The Irish were on track for the Grand Slam, too, but England managed an incredible upset at Twickenham by way of a Marcus Smith drop goal. But still, they managed to take out the Six Nations crown for another year.

Away from the international arena, Leinster recently lost to the Bulls at Loftus Versfield – the very area where the first Test between Ireland and South Africa will be held. Fans can read into that result if they like, but the Irish will still be supremely confident that they can make history.


“The last win they won with 14 men on the field… CJ Stander got a red card and then Ireland actually knocked South Africa over,” Skinstad explained.

“Ireland have been to South Africa and beaten South Africa, why would they not think they could do it again? I think it’s an amazing opportunity for them to do the same.

“In the same breath, I think South Africa feel stung by the commentary… by the lack of acceptance that Ireland aren’t necessarily ranked below South Africa in World Rugby at the moment and I think they want to prove something.

“It’s going to be a real out-and-out… someone said it’s a ‘war’ when these teams are playing each other and that’s fantastic. That’s what you want.”

Rassie Erasmus has named 12 members of last year’s starting side in the World Cup final in the XV to take on the Irish. Damian Willemse, Steven Kitshoff and Duane Vermeulen are the trio who haven’t been selected either through injury or retirement.


Faf de Klerk joins Handre Pollard in the halves, while the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and captain Siya Kolisi will provide the muscle and experience in a star-studded forward pack.

“He (Rassie) has put a cracking team out. Ireland have been doing a lot of prep for this and (there’s) serious excitement. Outside, we’ve had a pre-game against Wales.

“Getting the guys together, with all the international places they play has been difficult and challenging but it seems like they’ve got a good team on the field and I’m pretty excited.

“I think it’s going to be one of those ones where everyone promises firecrackers and then we get a serious firework show.”

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B.J. Spratt 9 days ago

If FRANCE can beat the Poms 56 -10 at their “Hallowed home ground in March 2023, Twickenham, after trying for 16 years, I am sure the All Blacks can take them apart in Dunedin with a similar score and I am sure the Boks will “rip Ireland apart” and once again Northern Hemisphere Rugby will be “humiliated” for what it is;

A bunch of Public School Twats who sit around drinking whiskey at their Private Clubs, still patting each other on the back for the 1971 Lions Tour of New Zealand.

Mind you they were the “Best Test team I have ever seen”

Let face it check the record, you just can’t match “The Colonials when it comes to Rugby, Rugby League and Cricket”

Turlough 9 days ago

“We definitely can’t just rock up and expect to win”.
Handre Pollard.
Wow, big of Handre! Great for Handre if SA are thinking this way!

jim 10 days ago

I think this will be a cracker and hopefully lives up to the hype. Hopefully an intense but clean game not decided by a stupid red card on either side. Looking forward to a good game. The talking now needs to be done on the pitch. Best of luck to both sides but Éire abú

Turlough 10 days ago

The ‘war of words’ seems to be a common theme in South African commentary. Maybe South African media are running with this. All the words are on one side. There isn't a war just a disappointing attempt by Erasmus to start one. SA players know this, I can’t see this them being able to seriously use any real anger towards Ireland or Irish players as a common motivating factor. On the other hand Erasmus has handed Ireland one. Ireland are very very quiet……

MattJH 10 days ago

Congratulations in advance to all the players who are alive at the end of this match.
Also, I place zero value on the bulls vs Leinster result. It will familiarise the Irish players which is a bit of a positive, but that’s about all the effect it has.
These players are too professional to have any mental hang ups, too driven to perform for their countries, and both sides are (no disrespect) far better coached by their national set ups.

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