The stage is primed for an epic clash between two titans of rugby, locked in a fierce rivalry that ignites the passion of fans worldwide. In the current world rankings, the Springboks stand tall in first place, with the All Blacks nipping at their heels in second. This will be their third encounter this year, a showdown that promises to redefine the very essence of sporting greatness.

By Mashobane wakoMntungwa

The Springboks are ready for a nail-biting Rugby World Cup final showdown against New Zealand at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday evening. They have got all their ducks in a row for the upcoming match, ready to take on the haka head-on. They know this game is the real deal, the biggest since the Rugby World Cup final in Japan back in 2019.

On Friday 25 August, South Africa knocked it out of the park by delivering a crushing blow to New Zealand, leaving the All Blacks in the dust with their most devastating loss ever. They gave them a good old-fashioned whipping, with a score of 35-7 at Twickenham, London, England, just a mere two weeks before the start of the Rugby World Cup in France.

The All Blacks came out on top in the first encounter against the Springboks, clinching a 35-20 victory in Auckland during the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. However, the Boks turned the tables in their ultimate Rugby World Cup warm-up match, emerging victorious with a resounding 35-7 win. This outcome is expected to bring an extra dose of thrill to the final tomorrow.

South Africa’s historical record against New Zealand had never surpassed a 17-0 victory achieved in 1928. However, the 35-7 triumph not only secured a significant win but also propelled South Africa to the top spot in the rankings, instilling a renewed sense of confidence within the team.

Amabhokobhoko locks Marvin Orie and Jean Kleyn, are well aware of the difficulty that lies ahead and have declared their willingness to meet it head-on.

“I think everyone in the world knows New Zealand are famous for their courageous and skilful play,” said Orie.

“In Auckland, they started that match with intensity, and we took the learnings from that match going into the game in London, and fortunately it went in our favour.

“We are hoping for the same this weekend, but this is a Rugby World Cup final, and we know it will be a tight game.”

Nienaber names vastly experienced squad

On Thursday, Jacques Nienaber, the Boks head coach, announced the lineup of players – – who will face New Zealand in the World Cup final at Stade de France on Saturday.

This Springboks line-up boasts the highest level of experience in the history of the team, with a combined total of 987 caps. Furthermore, several players from this line-up have previously participated in the 2019 final, a factor that Nienaber deems to be of utmost importance.

“This is an experienced team with several players who played in the last Rugby World Cup final and who know exactly what to expect at Stade de France on Saturday and what it will take to retain the title,” said Nienaber.

“The players who will be playing in their first World Cup final have also proven their worth as warriors throughout this campaign and they are all ready for this massive occasion.

“We have said many times that we pick teams for varying gameplans depending on the opponent and that we use all 23 players to try and achieve those goals.

“We’ve gone from a five-three bench split to a seven-one split to give us the best chance of being successful. We have plans in place to mitigate injuries in the backline, but we’re excited about our plan, and we embrace the risk.”

Gratitude and joy

Nienaber has conveyed his gratitude for the valuable contributions made by every team member who has played a role in the success of Amabhokobhoko.

“This a huge day for the entire squad – and the guys who played for us earlier in the season,” he said.

“As a coaching team, we are proud of the contribution that every player in the larger squad made in getting us to the final to create this opportunity.

“We know we are in for a colossal battle. Every point and inch will count in this match, and we know it will take another top-class effort to come out on top on Saturday.”

Nienaber is looking to make his country proud and believes the support from back home is important for the team.

“The messages of support and videos from home have inspired us immensely, and we know the magnitude of this occasion, not just for the players and management – who have made huge sacrifices to get us here – but for what this day means for our country,” he said.

“We are proud of the fact that we have given some hope and excitement to so many people in the last few months, and we’ll give everything to bring further joy to our wonderful nation on Saturday.

“Matches between the Springboks and All Blacks are always special and hard-fought, and with this being a World Cup final, the rivalry is expected to be more intense. They have an experienced squad with a physical pack and a backline that can create magic from nothing, so we’ll have to be at our best on attack and defence to get the result.”

The match kicks off at 21:00 on Saturday and will be televised live on SuperSport.

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