Sixteen years ago, the Rugby World Cup in France ended with it being about the world-champion Springboks, and the 2023 edition will finish the same way, writes MARK KEOHANE.
Former Bok coach Jake White and the triumphant 2007 World Cup squad, captained by John Smit, were recently inducted into the SA Hall of Fame for their heroics at rugby’s global spectacle.
They etched their mark into history with a 15-6 win over England in the Paris final, and their outstanding achievements and relentless pursuit throughout the tournament left an indelible mark on the sport.
This year, the World Cup returns to the home of Les Bleus and the City of Lights, where the reigning champions, the Boks, chase an unprecedented fourth world title.
The South Africans completed their World Cup preparations with a record win against the All Blacks, and writing for TimesLIVE, Keohane tips Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber’s troops to emulate White’s class of ‘07.
“In 2007, the Boks sizzled in the semi-final against Argentina, and blanked England 36-0 in pool play,” writes Keohane, who was in France and covered the 2007 World Cup-winning campaign, and wrote about it in his book, Champions of the World… Seven Magnificent Weeks.
“I expect the love affair with the Stade de France and Springboks to be even stronger this time around and the pool showdown against Ireland at the Stade will be the equal of a final.
“There was so much to adore about the 2007 Springboks campaign. The Boks were popular, and they played brilliant rugby.
“Victor Matfield was the player of the final, [Bryan] Habana, in equaling the late Jonah Lomu’s eight tries in the tournament, was the World Player of the Year and Monty [Percy Montgomery] kicked at 82% for his 102 points.
“France, in 2007, started with it being about France but it ended with it being about the Springboks. I believe the Boks will be as magnificent again.”
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