Springboks Rugby World Cup

The Springboks lining up during the national anthem. Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP

Ireland coach on Springboks’ 7-1 split: I LOVE it!

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has emphatically come out in support of the Springboks’ decision to load their bench with seven forwards.

Springboks Rugby World Cup

The Springboks lining up during the national anthem. Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP

One of the big talking points in the lead up to this Saturday’s World Cup clash between the Springboks and Ireland has been the decision by South Africa to go for a 7-1 forwards-to-back split on the bench for their third Rugby World Cup pool encounter.

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Ever since Tuesday, it has been a big talking point in rugby circles, and divided opinion on many fronts.

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However, the Ireland coach suggested it was in fact ‘irrelevant’ to them.

“I did pose the question to our forwards coaches as to whether we should go with seven backs and one forward, but they weren’t up for that!” Farrell joked after naming his team.

“I think more importantly than the seven-one split, which is a bit irrelevant to us, is the last game we played against each other [Ireland won 19-16 in Dublin in November 2022].

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“I’m sure they think they know us a bit better, and maybe that might have influenced the split. But we feel the same. We feel we could have performed better on that occasion, and both teams have the opportunity to show that at the weekend.

“There are all sort of different permutations,” he added. “Even with a five-three split, you can’t cover everything. But you need to be adaptable, which is something we have worked hard at with our planning over the last few years.

“I suppose they [Springboks] have done exactly the same with the seven-one split. I love it; I respect it. I like the fact they know their squad and brought four scrum-halves over, a hooker who has not really played in that specialist position before.

“It shows they know their players and which direction they want to go. Hopefully, they think the same about us as well.”

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Springbok record against Ireland:

Played 27, Won 18, Lost 8, Drawn 1. Points for: 522; Points against: 399. Tries scored: 71; Tries conceded: 37. Highest score: 38; Biggest win: 38 points (38-0). Average score: 19-15. Win %: 66,7%.

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  • Springbok wing Kurt-Lee Arendse will start the match with an impressive try-scoring record of 12 tries in 11 Tests.
  • Springbok centre Damian de Allende will reach the 75 Test mark when he takes the field on Saturday.
  • Saturday’s match will be the first time the Springboks and Ireland clash at a Rugby World Cup, making it the first Test between the two sides at a neutral venue.
  • Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Faf de Klerk and Damian de Allende are the only players left from the last time the Boks beat Ireland – on 25 June 2016, in Nelson Mandela Bay.
  • Kitshoff and Mbonambi made their Springbok debuts in the same match against Ireland seven years ago, while De Klerk and Mostert debuted earlier in that series against the Irish.
  • Replacement forwards Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman and Marco van Staden will face Ireland for the first time.
  • The Springboks have won their last seven Tests in the French capital. Their last defeat in the city was in 2005 by France (20-26).

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  • The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 833.
  • There are 271 caps in the backline, with 562 caps among the forwards. On the bench there are a further 208 caps.
  • The average caps per player in the backline is 38, the forwards 70, while the players on the bench average 26.