2023 top stories | Springboks, SA’s sporting highlight

todayDecember 29, 2023 56 1

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Springbok Rugby team captain Siya Kolisi (L) President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber (R) greet the crowd as part of the trophy parade after the Springbok team won the 2023 Rugby World Cup, in Pretoria, South Africa, 02 November 2023. The Springboks won back to back Rugby World Cups and are the only team to have won four titles. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

The 28th of October has to be South Africa’s sporting highlight for this year. It’s the day the Springboks made history – winning a record-setting fourth Rugby World Cup title, and become just the second nation to win back-to-back Rugby World Cups.

In a year which saw several World Cup tournaments (ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, ICC U-19 Women’s World Cup, Netball World Cup amongst others) being hosted in Mzansi, none captured South Africans like the exploits of Siyamthanda Kolisi’s charges in France.

The year started on a positive note for the Boks as they beat old foes Australia 43-12 in the opener of their truncated 2023 Rugby Championship campaign. Jacques Nienaber’s men would then also narrowly beat Argentina by a single point in the second match and would end the campaign with a loss to the All Blacks.

Post that, the Bokke would fix all of their attention on the 2023 World Cup to be hosted in France with warm up matches against Argentina, Wales, and the All Blacks respectively which they won convincingly.

The match against the All Blacks in particular created headlines as the Springbok coaching staff decided to go for a 7-1 split on the bench. The move paid off spectacularly, with the Springbok forwards demolishing their rivals to claim a record-breaking victory.

The Boks got their World Cup campaign off to a flying start, beating Scotland 18-3, in a match where flyhalf Manie Libbok pulled off a spectacular cross-field kick to assist a try.

That was followed up with an 11-try demolition of tier-two nation Romania, before a 13-8 loss against Ireland in the Pool A decider, which put South Africa on a quarter-final collision course with tournament hosts France.

The Boks then suffered a huge blow as hooker Malcolm Marx was ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury. The Bok management took the opportunity to recall flyhalf Handre Pollard and the vice-captain made his impact felt in the final pool match against Tonga, slotting four conversions.

The pulsating quarter-final showdown against France sparked a thrilling run of successive one-point victories through the playoffs for the Springboks.

Then having come off the bench in the first half, Pollard was part of a ‘Bomb Squad’ effort that rescued the semi-final against England.

Erasmus repeated the seven-one split for the World Cup final, with Deon Fourie playing as a substitute hooker and Willie le Roux as the only replacement back. A magnificent defensive display, fronted by man of the match Pieter-Steph du Toit, saw the Springboks become the first team to win the World Cup four times.

Written by: Ntsako Mukhari

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