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Why Springboks are World Cup favourites after ‘statement’ win over All Blacks

By Finn Morton
Faf de Klerk celebrates the Springboks try. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

The in-form Springboks might be worthy of the ‘favourites’ tag ahead of the upcoming Rugby World Cup after recording frighteningly dominant wins over Wales and New Zealand last month.


South Africa started their preparations for this year’s World Cup with a big win over Eddie Jones’ Wallabies in Pretoria. It was a statement win, but they needed to back it up.

But the Boks took on fierce rivals the All Blacks at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium a week later, and the result was never really in doubt. The hosts put on a show as they ran away with a 35-20 win.

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Two wins over Argentina followed, but the Boks looked like a shadow of their former selves – and time was running out.

But fear no more Springboks fans, your rugby heroes have come of age ahead of their Rugby World Cup title defence.  The Boks beat Wales and New Zealand by incredible margins, and will go into their tournament opener full of confidence.

“A month ago I was slamming them when in cold in Mt Smart, they got blitzed in the first 20 minutes, and I asked for a statement performance in Johannesburg against Argentina. They snuck in by one point,” South African scribe Mark Keohane said on Weekend Sport with Jason Pine.

“I wrote a scathing column saying, ‘Come on, give us that statement performance.’

“They went to Cardiff, they won 52-16… Then the All Blacks picked what they could, their best 15 to start, and then Rassie pulled the great one – seven on one, Twickenham.


“Looking at that scoreboard, 35-nil after 65 minutes and  I couldn’t believe it. Seven of the nine worst-ever Springbok defeats have come against the old enemy, the All Blacks.

“It was really the statement performance… they go into the World Cup on a high and New Zealand, for me, go in with some serious questions, once again about their forward pack.

“The Springboks, two big statement performances just a the right time.”

The convincing win over Wales was a step in the right direction, but the Boks’ highly anticipated clash with the All Blacks in London was always going to be a defining challenge.

South Africa dominated the territory and possession battle from minute one at Twickenham, but they couldn’t quite turn their pressure into points at first.


But tries to Siya Kolisi and Kurt-Lee Arendse, and a second yellow card to All Blacks lock Scott Barrett just before the break, opened the floodgates.


The Boks put on an attacking clinic in the second half, with the All Blacks falling to their worst-ever defeat 35-7.

“In the professional era, it’s right up there because again, the quality of the opposition,” Keohane explained.

“This wasn’t a New Zealand second-string side that played in Dunedin, this was a very good All Blacks side that went out there and just got blitzed.

“It was a great performance. We speak about the traditional South Africa and New Zealand rivalry, in the professional era, it’s coming in blips.

“A lot of people have said it’s a meaningless game, the All Blacks were cold – they haven’t played for four weeks, (but) it was a big, big result for South Africa, and a big, big confidence booster ahead of the World Cup.”


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