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Springboks to feast on Cherry Blossoms


Written by Pierre McLeod (pierre_mackie)

Posted in :Original Content, RWC 2015, Springboks on 18 Sep 2015 at 14:03

The Springboks will face Japan in a historic first match in their Rugby World Cup opener at the Brighton Community Stadium in Brighton on Saturday.

Japan who is also known as the Cherry Blossoms were founded in 1926. They compete annually in the Pacific Nations Cup and the Asian Five Nations. Despite their participation in every Rugby World Cup since 1987, when the tournament started, they could only manage one win from twenty four matches and two draws. The win came against Zimbabwe in 1991 when the World Cup hosted by England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France.

Japan has shown much improvement under their former Australian coach, Eddie Jones, and are currently ranked 13th in the world, ahead of Italy, USA and Canada. Under Jones’ guidance, Japan has won their sixth consecutive Asian Five Nations championship in 2013 and achieved a tournament record score of 121 – 0 against Philippines.

They have also recorded a 23 – 8 win against Wales, in 2013, after losing narrowly 18 – 22 in the first test. They also recorded a narrow 26 – 23 win against Italy in 2014. 

This weekend Japan will come up against the most experienced Springbok side with a combined total of 880 Test caps.

Vice-captain Victor Matfield will be the most experienced player on the field, with 123 test appearances, followed by Bryan Habana on 110 and captain Jean de Villiers on 107. Japan’s most capped player Hitoshi Ono will win his 95th test cap.

Meyer said Saturday’s Test will be a great occasion against an opponent that will challenge the Springboks on different levels.

“We play against the big teams from the Southern and Northern Hemisphere quite often and with them it’s mostly a case of you know what to expect,” said Meyer.

“But Japan will pose a different threat. They have a very astute coach in Eddie Jones and our players who play in Japan have warned us to expect a very high tempo game and good, low tackling to stop momentum.

“The players know that nothing but their best will be good enough on Saturday and we realise the importance of starting the World Cup on a good note, but having said that, we also know that there is no such thing as an easy game in rugby anymore and they will be just as fired up as us.

South Africa boast with an 86.2% win percentage, 25 wins from 29 World Cup matches, this is also the highest for a Rugby World Cup team.

The 880 caps are split up with 392 amongst the backs, 488 amongst the forwards and 243 amongst the bench.

Lood de Jager, Zane Kirchner, Jesse Kriel and Lwazi Mvovo will make their Rugby World Cup debut, while Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Handre Pollard and Adriaan Strauss will make their debut off the bench.

Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most capped Springbok wing, he also holds the record for the most tries in Rugby World Cup for South Africa, 10. If he manages to score four tries he will also be the new record holder for the most career tries as a wing, current holder is Japan’s Daisuke Ohata on 62.

Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most capped Springbok centre, with 92 caps and will captain South Africa for the 36th time, which makes him the second most capped Springbok captain with Gary Teichmann.

Jannie and brother Bismarck du Plessis along with Tendai Mtawarira will appear in their record 19th test start.

Under the five tests match referee Jerome Garces officiated for South Africa, they have won three and lost two. The last one was in July 2015 when the Springboks lost 20 – 27 to New Zealand in Johannesburg.

Kick-off 17:45 (SA time)

Springboks: 
15 Zane Kircher 14 Bryan Haban 13 Jesse Kriel 12 Jean de Villiers (capt) 11 Lwazi Mvovo 10 Pat Lambie  9 Ruan Pienaar 8 Schalk Burger 7 Willem Alberts 6 Francois Louw 5 Victor Matfield 4 Lood de Jager 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 Bismarck du Plessis 1 Tendai Mtawarira 

Reserves:
16 Adriaan Strauss 17 Trevor Nyakane 18 Coenie Oosthuizen 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit 20 Siya Kolisi 21 Fourie du Preez 22 Handre Pollard 23 JP Pietersen

Japan:
15 Ayumu Goromaru 14 Akihotio Yamada 13 Male Sa’u 12 Craig Wing 11 Kotaro Matsushima 10 Kosei Ono 9 Fumiaki Tanaka 8 Hendrik Tui 7 Michael Broadhurst 6 Michael Leitch (capt) 5 Hitoshi Ono 4 Luke Thompson 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama 2 Shota Horie 1 Masataka Maikami

Reserves:
16 Takeshi Kizu 17 Keita Inagaki 18 Hiroshi Yamashita 19 Shinya Makabe 20 Amanaki Mafi 21 Atsushi Hiwasa 22 Harumichi Tatekawa 23 Karne Hesketh



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