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  • Date: Saturday September 23, 20:00 BST
  • Location: Stade de France, Paris
  • Teams: South Africa vs Ireland

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Pool Stage meeting of two of the main contenders

South Africa

Holders South Africa began their defence of the trophy with an impressive win over Scotland. They appear to be coming into form at exactly the right time. Their loss to New Zealand in the Rugby Championship was only their second defeat in 10 matches. Their squad has huge depth, especially among the forwards. The “Bomb Squad” is divided into starters and finishers, rather than first and second choice picks, and their ability to shuffle the pack and keep players fit will be crucial.

The Springboks put in a clinical and powerful display in Marseille against the Scots. Scotland’s forwards worked tirelessly in the first half to keep the game tight but tow quick South African tries in the second period secured the match.

Pieter-Steph Du Toit smashed over the line for the first on 48 minutes, and, four minutes later, a superbly inventive cross-field kick from the excellent Manie Libbok released Kurt-Lee Arendse to finish. From that point, the Springboks took the game by the scruff of the neck and simply wore down Scotland.

However, the Springboks suffered the blow of losing hooker Malcolm Marx for the tournament following a knee injury sustained in training prior ro their second Pool B match. They came through that fixture, against Romania, with very few problems, winning 76-0.

Key second row Eben Etzebeth has been passed fit for South Africa,  The Springboks have opted for seven forwards on the bench, with scrum-half Cobus Reinach the sole back in the replacements – compared to Ireland’s more conventional five-three split.

South Africa: Willemse; Arendse, Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe; Libbok, De Klerk; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (capt), Du Toit, Wiese.

Replacements: Fourie, Nche, Nyakane, Kleyn, Snyman, Van Staden, Smith, Reinach.


Ireland are Six Nations Champions and are ranked number one in the world, yet Andy Farrell’s side find themselves only fourth  favourites to win the World Cup. The Irish are on a remarkable run, which has seen them top the world rankings.

 After finishing runners up to France in the 2022 Six Nations, they enjoyed a 2-1 series victory over New Zealand on their Summer Tour, before winning all three of their Autumn Internationals prior to winning the Grand Slam at the Six Nations. 

They won all of their warm up matches and opened up with an emphatic victory over Romania. Johnny Sexton, Ireland’s oldest ever player, racked up 24 points in an 82 – 8 win, which was Ireland’s biggest at a World Cup. They followed this up with a 59-16 success against Tonga.

As well as the talismanic Sexton, Ireland have quality in the backs with the likes of Hugo Keenan and Mack Hansenin and in  the forwards with Tadhg Beirne and Caelan Doris being especially influential.

Ronan Kelleher will start at hooker ahead of Dan Sheehan, who returns from injury to make the replacements.

Scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park returns in place of Conor Murray at scrum-half in the only change from the side that beat Tonga.

On the bench, Sheehan replaces Rob Herring while fly-half Jack Crowley comes in for Ross Byrne.

Ireland: Keenan; Hansen, Ringrose, Aki, Lowe; Sexton (capt), Gibson-Park; Porter, Kelleher, Furlong, Ryan, Beirne, O’Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris.

Replacements: Sheehan, Bealham, Kilcoyne, Henderson, Baird, Murray, Crowley, Henshaw.


Pool B will be taking on the mantle of the group of death, with an improving Scotland competing with the Springboks and the Irish for qualification. Just as tough to call is the face off between South Africa and Ireland.The match could have huge significance, not only for qualification and positioning in Pool B, but for any potential meeting later in the tournament.  It is extremely difficult to tip and Ireland side of this calibre to lose given the run that they are on. However, South Africa are in imperious form of late and their strength in depth could be key. They are slight favourites to get a narrow win here.

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Chris is a former athlete and a qualified PE teacher. He is a keen football fan, watching many matches at different levels throughout the season, and enjoys following many different sports. With betting and sports sites, he has a keen eye for detail and can to highlight positives and negatives for users. His experience in sport as a performer, teacher, writer and fan allows him to see things from many different perspectives. Editorial Promise