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Rugby World Cup 2023 Match Preview: South Africa v Scotland

Everything you need to know about South Africa v Scotland at Stade de Marseille on Sunday, 10 September.

The second-best side in the world plays the one ranked fifth in another big Rugby World Cup clash, this time at Marseille, one of four pool matches hosted in the Mediterranean city.

The Springboks put 50 points on Wales, before inflicting a record 35-7 defeat on New Zealand in the warm-up matches to make it perfectly clear that they’re not about to give up their title easily.

With world number one side Ireland waiting in the wings, both sides will want to get off to a fast start. But history leans very much one way…

FIXTURE: South Africa v Scotland

GROUND: Stade de Marseille (67,847)

KICK-OFF: 17:45 local time (GMT +2)

FIXTURE HISTORY

South Africa and Scotland have played 28 times since their first international, back in 1906. Scotland won that match – on South Africa’s first-ever international tour, on which their Springboks nickname was coined – 6-0.

The Scots have won just four matches between the two sides since, coming off second best both times they played the Springboks in Rugby World Cups, in 1999 and 2015.

MEMORABLE MATCH

Two matches after South Africa lost the ‘Miracle in Brighton’ game at RWC 2015, they faced Scotland at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.

Schalk Burger, JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana all scored tries, while Handré Pollard, then a 21-year-old upstart, kicked 19 points as the Springboks won 34-16 en route to that year’s semi-finals. The fly-half had only made his senior international debut against the Scots in July 2014.

Scotland recovered to beat Samoa 36-33 in their final pool match to also reach the knockout phase. But they agonisingly lost their quarter-final against Australia 35-34.

KEY TALKING POINT

Much has been made of the difficulty of qualification from Pool B, which features world number one side Ireland, defending champions and second-placed South Africa – for whom Faf de Klerk wins his 50th cap here – and fifth-ranked side Scotland.

Whatever happens at Marseille between South Africa and Scotland won’t definitively decide either side’s tournament ambitions – both sides face Ireland in the next couple of weeks – but it will set the tone for the rest of their tournament.

A win, one way or another, will be a huge confidence boost.

PLAYER HEAD-TO-HEAD

Manie Libbok v Finn Russell. With Handré Pollard injured, South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has placed his fly-half eggs in two baskets – specialist Libbok and Damien Willemse, a full-back by trade capable of doing a job at 10. Both are excellent players – but they will lean on their dominant forwards for a platform to get one-up on world-beater Russell.

STATS-AMAZING

In November 2002, Scotland beat South Africa at Murrayfield. They then lost seven meetings on the bounce, before winning at the eighth time of asking, in November 2010 at Murrayfield.

They have lost all seven matches between the two sides since.

REF WATCH

Angus Gardner (Australia). Gardner refereed a test match – a 2011 Oceania Cup fixture between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu – before he refereed a Super Rugby game.

TEAMS

South Africa: Damian Willemse; Kurt-Lee Arendse; Jesse Kriel; Damian de Allende; Cheslin Kolbe; Manie Libbok; Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe; Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert; Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph Du Toit, Jasper Wiese

Replacements: Mbongeni Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Grant Williams, Willie Le Roux

SCOTLAND Blair Kinghorn; Duhan van der Merwe, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Darcy Graham; Finn Russell, Ben White; Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson; Richie Gray, Grant Gilchrist; Jamie Ritchie (captain), Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey;

Replacements: David Cherry, Jamie Bhatti, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Ali Price, Cameron Redpath, Ollie Smith

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