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Springboks and All Blacks to create more ‘history’ in World Cup final

By Finn Morton
Kwagga Smith of South Africa celebrates with his teammates after scoring the team's fifth try during the Summer International match between New Zealand All Blacks v South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on August 25, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

When the full-time whistle sounded at Stade de France on Saturday night, the Springboks and their supporters were filled with an immense feeling of both euphoria and relief. They were off to another World Cup final.

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Towering lock Eben Etzebeth was initially lost for words after making a guest appearance on The Big Jim Show as the South Africans look to become just the second nation to win back-to-back crowns.

But the challenge awaiting them in the final is ferocious. The All Blacks booked their place in the big dance with a commanding 44-6 win over Argentina on Friday night at the very same Siant-Denis venue.

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South Africa post-match media briefing – World Cup semifinal

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South Africa post-match media briefing – World Cup semifinal

New Zealand and South Africa share one of the most intense rivalries in rugby, if not world sport. It’s a contest fuelled by respect, patriotism and passion – and another chapter will be written in just under a week.

Springboks versus the All Blacks in a Rugby World Cup final – it doesn’t get much bigger than that. The two great rivals haven’t met in rugby’s biggest Test since the dramatic decider of ’95 which saw Francois Pienaar hoist the Boks’ first World Cup.

“Very excited. As a kid we grew up listening to the radio on the battles between the All Blacks and South Africa, listening to the stories of the heroes from both teams over the years,” assistant coach Deon Davids told reporters on Sunday.

“It has been part of our rugby history, the Springboks and the All Blacks, and every time we play each other it is always a special battle and I don’t think this one will be different. I think it will maybe go to a different level in terms of the competition between the players – excellent talent in both teams.

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“It is going to come down to the day. It is how the team that handles the pressure, executes the best, or maybe one brilliant moment from one individual that turns things around, it might come down to things like that.

“We are very privileged and humble to make it so far, to be part of such a big week leading to this game.”

The All Blacks were clearly the best team in The Rugby Champions this year. New Zealand defeated Argentina, South Africa and Australia with relative ease throughout a practically perfect campaign.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
2
Draws
0
Wins
3
Average Points scored
20
23
First try wins
60%
Home team wins
40%

But the Springboks’ revenge just before the sport’s showpiece event had the rugby world talking. South Africa inflicted a record defeat upon New Zealand as they won 35-7 at Twickenham two months ago.

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But the past is the past. Coach Davids doesn’t “think any of those previous encounters” matter ahead of a blockbuster decider.

“It is a fantastic and exciting week that lies ahead of us. Our battles with the All Blacks, there is a lot of history between us,” Davids continued.

“We have played them a couple of times this year but going into a World Cup final I don’t think any of those previous encounters count. It is a totally new game, under new circumstances, playing for the World Cup. We will have to be on top of our plan and our execution this week.

“You can see that throughout the competition New Zealand have been playing excellent rugby. They are also in a really good space, so it is going to be a hard-fought battle on Saturday and we need to make sure we tick a lot of boxes in our preparation.”

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