After a stunning blow at the hands of the Japanese rugby team last month, the South Africa Springboks are bouncing back to play Wales in the quarterfinal for the World Cup. The loss to Japan, which the South African Sports Minister used to label the Sprinboks “losers,” galvanized the team to make a comeback and defeat all their future opponents, including a victory against the USA. South Africa defeated the U.S. team in a stunning victory that resulted in a 64-0 score over the Americans.
Wing JP Peterson, who will return to the game after an injury, the only change to the starting lineup, said in The Express UK that it involved a lot of mental preparation in the game against Wales.
“We’ve played knockout rugby from game two. I think that probably helps a lot with the mental preparation for this stage. It was definitely emotional after the Japan game. We opened up and had a hard session with ourselves on what we did wrong. We let ourselves down and our country down. But that’s part of rugby – it’s all about testing the character, and this has been a character test for us. We were all disappointed about what happened but I have to give credit to everyone in the team who has stood up in the three games since then. Everyone has seen the character in our team.”
Coach Heyneke Meyer was a little less philosophical about South Africa’s loss to Japan. He joked that he cried for about 24 hours and then even considered suicide as the South Africa team expects a semi-final appearance to be the bare minimum chance they will receive.
“I cried for about 24 hours and then thought about committing suicide for an hour. I’m joking but it was a very tough day. As a coach you have to plan to pick the players up on the Monday because it’s not going to go away. We took it on the chin and we did that. But I have said to the players this week we are right back to where we started. We have to go through.”
Eurosport UK reported that the game between South Africa and Wales takes place in England and will start at 16:00 UK time. The captain, Fourie DuPreez will lead the lineup that includes Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Handre Pollard, Bryan Habana, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, JP Pietersen and Willie le Roux. As mentioned previously, the only new addition to the starting lineup is JP Pietersen, who returned from an injury. The Springboks lost captain Jean de Villiers for the tournament, and his deputy Victor Matfield for the quarter final.
Although this is only the second match between South Africa and Wales in the World Cup, Wales beat South Africa in the their last match, while the Springboks beat Wales by a point in the pool stages four years ago. Before that, Wales had lost 16 matches against South Africa dating back to the turn of the century.
South Africa won three of the five quarter finals they contested in the World Cup, receiving their two defeats in 2003 and 2011. If Wales reaches the semi finals, it will see them in back to back World Cups for the first time. Wales has never won two games in a row against South Africa, having only beaten them twice overall in test rugby.
The highlight of the game promises to be a chance for Bryan Habana to break Jonah Lomu’s World Cup scoring record, as Habana and Lomu are currently tied as the leading scorers. Habana isn’t expected to play much for South Africa this weekend.
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