The core of the Springbok team that has played in 2013 has been selected to start in the final match of the season, marking 100 years of Test rugby against France in Paris on Saturday evening.
Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth and Morné Steyn all return to the starting line-up after last weekend’s 28-0 win over Scotland in Edinburgh, for the last match of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.
Mtawarira, Etzebeth and Steyn are part of a group of 10 players who have been selected for every Test in 2013, along with Willie le Roux, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Ruan Pienaar, Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss and Pat Lambie.
A further three players – Du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe and Francois Louw – each missed only one Test this season.
After an impressive performance against Scotland, Oosthuizen will be in the starting line-up for the first time after 13 appearances off the bench.
He takes over at tighthead prop from the injured Frans Malherbe, with the uncapped Lourens Adriaanse coming onto the bench.
“This is a great opportunity for Coenie and we believe he’s ready to make the step up to a starting role in the team,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“I’m also very happy for Lourens, who has been part of the squad for almost the entire season. He’s waited patiently for an opportunity and what better way to make your debut than against France in Paris.”
Commenting on the return of Mtawarira, Du Plessis, Etzebeth and Steyn, as well as the inclusion of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi on the bench this week, Meyer said he had rotated the squad during the final three Tests of 2013 in order to keep the players fresh.
“Gurthrö, Adriaan, Bakkies and Pat did very well last week against Scotland and will have an important role to play this week,” said Meyer.
“We have been quite fortunate with injuries this year and I’m very happy that we’ve managed to keep the continuity in selection. Most of the players have received ample game time and showed they have what it takes to perform at Test level. Our aim is now to keep on improving against France and hopefully end a very successful season on a high note.”
The Springboks have won nine of their 11 Tests in 2013 and 12 from the past 14, including last year’s November tour. But the task of taking on Les Bleus in France is a formidable one – South Africa’s last away victory over France was in 1997 at the Parc des Princes.
South Africa and France have played twice at the Stade de France in Paris with France winning both (20-10) in 2001 and (26-20) in 2005. The Boks have scored 30 points (three tries) against 46 points (four tries) for an average of 15-23.
The Boks have played six Tests in total at this venue, winning four (England in 1999, 44-21 and twice in 2007 during the RWC, 36-0 and 15-6 in the Final) and Argentina (37-13) also during the 2007 RWC. The Boks’ last game at this venue was the 2007 RWC final against England on 20 October, 2007.
The Springbok team to face France in Paris is:
15. Willie le Roux 11 caps 20 points
14. JP Pietersen 50 caps 75 points
13. Jaque Fourie 71 caps 160 points
12. Jean de Villiers (captain) 95 caps 125 points
11. Bryan Habana 94 caps 265 points
10. Morné Steyn 53 caps 625 points
9. Ruan Pienaar 73 caps 130 points
8. Duane Vermeulen 15 caps 5 points
7. Willem Alberts 29 caps 35 points
6. Francois Louw 27 caps 25 points
5. Flip van der Merwe 33 caps 5 points
4. Eben Etzebeth 23 caps 0 points
3. Coenie Oosthuizen 13 caps 10 points
2. Bismarck du Plessis (vice-captain) 56 caps 45 points
1. Tendai Mtawarira 52 caps 10 points
16. Adriaan Strauss 32 caps 25 points
17. Gurthrö Steenkamp 48 caps 30 points
18. Lourens Adriaanse 0 caps 0 points
19. Bakkies Botha 77 caps 35 points
20. Pieter-Steph du Toit 1 caps 0 points
21. Siya Kolisi 9 caps 0 points
22. Jano Vermaak 3 caps 0 points
23. Pat Lambie 31caps 65 points
Stats and facts:
•The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 695 Test caps (447 in the backline and 248 in the forwards), while there are a further 201 caps worth of experience on the bench. The 447 caps in the backline equals the record that was set against Wales earlier this month.
•South Africa and France last met on 12 June 2010 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town. The Springboks outscored France by 42-17 and five tries to two.
•Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 80 Tests in this position. He will be the captain for the 24th consecutive time. This will put him in fourth place on the list of Springbok captains, behind John Smit (83), Gary Teichmann (36) and Francois Pienaar (29). Jean and Jaque Fourie will also extend their SA record of 28 Tests as a centre-pairing.
•Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 93 Tests in this position (he started at outside centre once) and if he scores a try, will extend his record of 53 Test tries for South Africa. He needs two tries to equal the career record of Pieter Rossouw’s six tries against France.
•Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 51 Tests in the position. If he scores a try, he will also extend his record of eight Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa.
•If he scores a try, Bismarck du Plessis will extend his record of nine Test tries for South Africa as a hooker.
•If he takes to the field and scores a try, Gurthrö Steenkamp will extend his own record of six tries as a prop for South Africa.
•If Jaque Fourie scores a try he will extend his record of 28 Test tries for South Africa as a centre. He is currently third on the list of all-time Test try scorers for the Springboks, behind Bryan Habana (53) and Joost van der Westhuizen (38).
•The referee is Wayne Barnes of England. This will be his ninth Test involving South Africa. The Springboks have won five and lost three. The last game was on 10 November 2012 on the end of year tour against Ireland, which the Springboks won by 16-12.
Springbok Test match records at Stade de France, Paris:
oMost points – 34 (2c, 5p, 5dg) by Jannie de Beer on 24 October 1999 against England.
oMost tries – two by JP Pietersen on 14 September 2007 against England and by Bryan Habana on 14 October 2007 against Argentina.
oMost conversions – four by Percy Montgomery on 14 October 2007 against Argentina.
oMost penalty goals – five by Jannie de Beer on 24 October 1999 against England.
oMost drop goals – five by Jannie de Beer on 24 October 1999 against England.