The Springboks can become the world’s number 1 team this weekend if they can topple the All Blacks by 15 points or more in their Rugby Championship clash.
Seems completely bizarre to me but this is the weird and wonderful way in which the IRB ranking work. Anyway here is the Springboks team and info for this weekends clash, let’s hope it’s another classic like last year;
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will on Saturday join four other South Africans when he leads the team out in his 100th Test, against New Zealand at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington (kick-off 09h35 SA time).
The Springbok match-23 to face New Zealand shows only one change from last weekend, with Handré Pollard starting at flyhalf.
The 33-year-old De Villiers will become the 34th Test player to reach this milestone. With him on the field will be two of the four South African centurions – the most-capped Springbok of all time, Victor Matfield (114 caps) and Bryan Habana, who reached this special milestone last weekend against Australia in Perth.
The other two Springbok centurions are John Smit (111) and Percy Montgomery (102).
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer lauded De Villiers, not only for the role he had played since taking over as captain in 2012, but also during the rest of his career, on the field and away from it.
“When the big names in South African rugby are mentioned, Jean will forever be among them,” said Meyer.
“He’s showed a lot of character and resilience to get here and to me, those are things that set him apart. Jean is not only an extremely good rugby player, but he’s also one of the greatest captains I’ve ever worked with.
“Jean is also a true ambassador for South Africa. To see how he is respected all over the world, is truly humbling and our fellow countrymen can be proud of him.
“Despite all of the success and responsibility, he’s never lost that sparkle in his eye and he treats everyone around him with respect.”
De Villiers, the SA Rugby Player of the Year in 2008 and 2013, will line up next to Pollard, whose inclusion in the starting line-up is the only change from the team which played in Perth last weekend. The bench is unchanged.
“We felt that Handré has the right skill set for how we want to approach this game,” said Meyer.
“He played well in the three Tests that he started. A couple of months ago, he was named the World Junior Player of the Year after some very impressive performances here for the Junior Springboks and I’m sure he can build on that.
“It’s also good for continuity to have an almost unchanged side. We know where we made mistakes last weekend and the players now have an opportunity to rectify those against the toughest opponent in world rugby.”
The Springbok team to face New Zealand in Wellington is:
15 Willie le Roux – 18 Tests, 35 points
14 Cornal Hendricks – 6 Tests, 20 points
13 Jan Serfontein – 13 Tests, 5 points
12 Jean de Villiers (captain) – 99 Tests, 125 points
11 Bryan Habana – 100 Tests, 280 points
10 Handre Pollard – 3 Tests, 29 points
9 Ruan Pienaar – 79 Tests, 135 points
8 Duane Vermeulen – 22 Tests, 10 points
7 Marcell Coetzee – 19 Tests, 20 points
6 Francois Louw – 33 Tests, 25 points
5 Victor Matfield (vice-captain) – 114 Tests, 35 points
4 Eben Etzebeth – 26 Tests, 0 points
3 Jannie du Plessis – 57 Tests, 5 points
2 Adriaan Strauss – 37 Tests, 25 points
1 Tendai Mtawarira – 58 Tests, 10 points
16 Bismarck du Plessis – 63 Tests, 45 points
17 Trevor Nyakane – 6 Tests, 5 points
18 Marcel van der Merwe – 2 Tests, 0 points
19 Lood de Jager – 6 Tests, 10 points
20 Warren Whiteley – 1 Test, 0 points
21 Francois Hougaard – 29 Tests, 20 points
22 Pat Lambie – 33 Tests, 68 points
23 Damian de Allende – 2 Tests, 0 points
Stats and facts:
• The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 685 Test caps (319 in the backline and 366 in the forwards), while there are a further 142 caps worth of experience on the bench.
• South Africa and New Zealand have played each other 87 times since 1921, with the Springboks winning 34 tests, losing 50 and three was drawn. The Springboks have scored 1,355 points and 133 tries and conceded 1,679 points and 177 tries for an average score of 16-19.
• South Africa and New Zealand last met on 5 October, 2013 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and the Springboks lost this Castle Lager Rugby Championship decider by 27-38.
• Jean de Villiers will be playing in his 100th Test for South Africa. He will become the fifth Springbok to achieve this feat behind Victor Matfield (114), John Smit (111), Percy Montgomery (102) and Bryan Habana (100).
• De Villiers will also extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 84 Tests in this position, as well as his own South African record of 47 Castle Lager Rugby Championship matches. He will captain South Africa for the 28th time, which places him fourth behind John Smit (83), Gary Teichmann (36) and Francois Pienaar (29).
• Victor Matfield will extend his own record as the most capped Springbok in history (114 Tests). He will also extend his own record of 114 Tests as a lock for He will also be playing against New Zealand for the 25th time to extend his own record.
• Bryan Habana will be playing in his 100th Test for South Africa on the wing. If he scores a try, he will extend his record of 56 Test tries as well as his Castle Lager Rugby Championship record of 18 tries and will extend his own SA record of seven career tries against New Zealand.
• If he goes on and scores a try, Bismarck du Plessis will extend his own record of eight Test tries for South Africa as a hooker.
• The referee is Jerome Garces of France. This will be his third Test involving South Africa. The Springboks have won both the previous Tests – the last being against Scotland on 17 November, 2013 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh (28-0).
Springbok Test match records at the Westpac Stadium, Wellington:
o Most points – 21 (1t, 5c, 2p) by Morne Steyn on 17 September, 2011 against Fiji.
o Most tries – one by nine players on eight occasions.
o Most conversions – five by Morne Steyn on 17 September, 2011 against Fiji.
o Most penalty goals – two by Morne Steyn on 17 September, 2011 against Fiji and by Morne Steyn again on 9 October, 2011 against Australia.
o Most drop goals – one by Werner Greeff 20 July, 2002 against New Zealand and by Morne Steyn on 9 October, 2011 against Australia.