BLOW BY BLOW | Superhuman Boks beat France by point in quarter thriller

15 October 2023 - 17:01
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The Springboks' Kurt-Lee Arendse scores his team's first try in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against France at Stade de France in Paris on Sunday night.
The Springboks' Kurt-Lee Arendse scores his team's first try in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against France at Stade de France in Paris on Sunday night.
Image: Warren Little/Getty Images

**** — 81min — Full Time — France 28 Boks 29 - ****

The Boks win it — they are into the semifinals!! Just spectacular! By a point!


Boks win it!!! Boks win it!!! Boks win it!!! It's punted out. Superhuman Boks into the semis!!!!!!!!


Boks have to win the ball!


France have the ball in their half, Boks defending, defending, France running! It's past 80min!


France from the scrum break down the right touchline into the Boks' half! Boks win ball back, De Klerk hoists into France half. France have the ball.


Boks were piling pressure, De Klerk pass came off a French player — scrum to France, controversially. Huge scrum here.


Ramos mistake gives Boks scrum in the middle on France 22. 


Strong Boks maul, Kolbe misses with drop goal attempt. It was not far off.


With seven minutes left there is a point in it!

72min — Penalty! — France 28 Boks 29

Ramos through the middle from the middle.

69min — Penalty! — France 25 Boks 29

Pollard unbelievable kick from inside own half!

68min — Conversion! — France 25 Boks 26

Pollard easy kick.

67min — Try! — France 25 Boks 24

After all that pressure something had to give — ball worked to Etzebeth to go over! — Boks back in it.


Penalty advantage from the scrum to SA. They swing, Pollard breaks, Boks get to 10m line. Penalty SA 10m out on the left. They are running it from a tap. Another penalty advantage.


France going through phases on Boks 22. Huge defence SA. Boks get scrum. Free-kick Boks, who take the scrum.


Boks enjoying some territory. Le Roux fumbles as they try to swing. Pieter-Steph Du Toit stays down on left after big hit by sub Francois Cros. Du Toit goes for an HIA.


Nche big at scrum — penalty South Africa. Kick to the left corner, but SA lose the ball to France from the line-out.


Jalibert slices, kicks penalty backwards about 10m!


Boks get some momentum from the kickoff, get the ball through some phases, pushing at France's 22, Kwagga Smith concedes penalty.

54min — Penalty! — France 25 Boks 19 

First points of second half, Ramos from the right — six-point lead. Bit ragged for the Boks now, and they have to stabilise — can the changes help?


Another change — Willie Le Roux on for Damian Willemse.

Ox Nche, Kwagga Smith also on for Kitshoff, Vermeulen.


Yes, I see, Etzebeth is back.


Etzebeth back soon (?) — did I miss him coming back. Boks need him back.


France just look capable of running at Boks when they have clean ball, which they have quite a lot of, and breaking the line like no other team has in this World Cup yet. Boks again using all their experience to stop them. Pollard not a great clearance — under the circumstances not so bad either.


Another change — Deon Fourie on for Siya Kolisi (at flank).


France piling it on again, Boks defence holds, Jesse Kriel big hit/intercept. Penalty Boks. 


Faf De Klerk on for Reinach

Handré Pollard on for Libbok

RG Snyman on for Franco Mostert 

Very interesting!


France's Jalibert kicks off! (Here we go again).


More on Twitter:


Looking at Twitter (sorry Elon) at the break, lots of Cheslin Kolbe appreciation, loooooots of heart palpitations:

**** — 40min — Half Time — France 22 Boks 19 - ****

France go the the break with a slight lead. Phew, the pace.

40min — Penalty — France 22 Boks 19

Ramos puts the penalty through from the left.


Steven Kitshoff concedes penalty on Boks' left, inside SA half. TMO looks at Etzebeth challenge for clash of heads with 3-Uini Atonio — yellow card Etzebeth, off for 10min. Etzebeth needed to be lower. First yellow of this World Cup for Boks.


France work their way into Boks half, have lineout on 22.


Scrum France in the middle of the field, inside French half, some breathing space in this insanely-paced thriller.

32min — Conversion! — France 19 Boks 19

Ramos coolly through the posts.

31min — Try! — France 17 Boks 19

Just end to end — Baille picks up at ruck and goes over!


Two more great tries below:

28min — Conversion! France 12 Boks 19

Libbok no mistake (2 from 3).

26min — Try! — France 12 Boks 17

Jesse Kriel excellent little grubber finds Kolbe streaking through for one such counterattack, over on the left!


Again, what a start. Part ragged, part inspirational, part France coming out like a freight train trying to knock the Boks out early, part the Boks' superb experience absorbing and hitting brilliantly on the counter.


Crazily, Cheslin Kolbe streaks out to charge down Ramos's conversion attempt. How important will those two points be — assuming it was on target, of course?

22min — Try! France 12 Boks 12

Boks concede penalty in front of poles, France take quickly, swing to the right, 2-Peato Muavaka goes over!


Libbok, easier kick — goes right of the poles.

18min — Try! — France 7 Boks 12

Huge passage of play by Boks finally getting territory and clean ball, another superb cross-kick Cobus Reinach, Damian de Allende big break, stopped, Boks recycle and De Allende over on the right!


It's almost all pressure from France, taking all the Boks' huge experience and skills to manage a fired-up start from Les Bleu in the deafening noise in Stade de France. 


Two superb tries below:


What a start! Your blogger is really battling to compose himself!

9min — Conversion! — France 7 Boks 7

Manie Libbok swings one just in from far on the right, scores level.

8min — Try! France 7 Boks 5

Superb chip ahead to the right by Reinach, Kurt-Lee Arendse gets the bounce and streaks through as Boks his straight back! 


France straight back on the attack running Boks ragged in the opening stages and desperate defence and an Etzebeth intercept prevent a try.

5min — Conversion! — France 7 Boks 0

Fullback 15-Thomas Ramos puts it just over inside left post from right touchline. Huge start for France.

4min — Try! France 5 Boks 0

Huge maul carried forward by France and 5-Thabaud Flmanet and loose ball taken over in right corner by 1-Cyril Baile!


Immediately France on the attack — flyhalf Jalibert chases kick to left corner where Kolbe beats him to it.


We have kickoff — Boks' Libbok get the game under way!


A moment's silence for victims of the conflict in Israel and Palestine, then La Marseillaise, rousing of course in front of a packed Stade de France, one of the world's iconic rugby and football stadiums, followed by Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika.


Teams take the field.


SABC Sport, the Boks arriving at Stade de France:


On SuperSport: A special message to the Springboks from NFL legend Tom Brady:


SuperSport TV's Schalk Burger, JP Pietersen and Gcobani Bobo on where the game can be won or lost for the Springboks:


Some of SuperSport TV's build-up coverage ... Motshidi Mohono pitchside with Hanyani Shimange previewing the quarterfinal:


Just over an hour to kickoff — below are some scenes from Paris, in and around Stade de France, South Africa and the Boks as the tension and excitement mounts like the Lone Ranger mounted Silver:


Sooooo, rather interestingly, England have beaten Fiji in the early quarter (30-24) in Marseille, so the Boks and France know who they'll meet in the semis.

What interesting, though, was England got rather thrashed by ... wait for it ... Afghanistan in the Cricket World Cup in India while the England-Fji RWC game was on(!). Soon after the scores were level in Marseille — and England sport was facing quite the evening. Two Farrell penalties made them safe in the rugby.

Stories below: 


... and now, we wait ...


How previewed the game:

The last of the quarterfinals. One semifinal place up for grabs. The hosts — second in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini — against the defending champions and the side they overtook during the tournament. It doesn’t get much bigger than this.

South Africa’s head coach Jacques Nienaber has named 13 of the 15 players who started against Ireland in round three. The only two changes are at scrumhalf, where Cobus Reinach gets the nod ahead of Faf de Klerk, and at eight, with Duane Vermeulen in place of Jasper Wiese.

With 880 caps in the starting XV, it’s South Africa’s second-most experienced Test line-up ever. Most of those caps are in the run-on pack, who have 623 caps between them — more than any other front eight in Springbok history. And there’s plenty more on the bench, as well...

Jacques Nienaber has named a 5-3 bench split for the second consecutive match, and third time at RWC 2023, while 14 of those involved here played against France in Marseille last November — including Manie Libbok, who made his debut back then.

France coach Fabien Galthié has made just one change to his starting XV that defeated Italy 60-7 in the last game, with captain Antoine Dupont returning 24 days after fracturing his jaw against Namibia in Marseille.

Galthié has named a 6-2 bench split for the second time this tournament, though Sekou Macalou has been employed on the wing in the past, while 12 of the starting XV that defeated South Africa in Marseille in 2022 have been named again this time.


The Springboks have the upper hand in 110 years of rugby history between the two nations. They have won 27 of the 45 matches played, including seven of the last eight, while France have claimed 12 wins, with six draws down the years.


The last one, a Rugby World Cup Test run in Marseille, in November 2022. Pieter-Steph du Toit and Antoine Dupont were both sent off in a hard-fought encounter in the Mediterranean port city, as Les Bleus came from behind to win 30-26 thanks to a late try from prop Sipili Falatea and a last-gasp penalty by Thomas Ramos.


Nienaber’s decision to start Libbok at 10 ahead of Handré Pollard in a match that’s likely to be tight, from the start. Libbok has converted 55 percent of his kicks at goal at RWC 2023, but has marshalled the Springboks’ backs brilliantly. Pollard, who averages 15.7 points per game in RWC knock-out games, will be expected to bring consistency at the business end of the match.


Anthony Jelonch v Siya Kolisi. Two back-rows who suffered serious injuries a matter of months ago, and who were far from guaranteed to make the tournament even as the squad deadline approached, line up on opposite flanks for what could be the toughest match of Rugby World Cup to date. That they’re even on the pitch here is testament to their dedication, determination, and willingness to put in some seriously hard rehab work behind the scenes.


France have lost just one of their last 28 matches on home soil — against Scotland in March 2021 — and have won their last 18 games on French soil. Antoine Dupont has not lost a match as captain, and Maxime Lucu has been on the winning side in every Test he has played.


Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand). O’Keeffe has officiated both teams already at this Rugby World Cup. He was in charge of South Africa’s 13-8 loss to Ireland, and France’s harder-than-expected win over Uruguay. He also had the whistle when Les Bleus beat England 53-10 at Twickenham in the 2023 Six Nations.


Here is the Springbok team named by Jacques Nienaber on Friday:

15 — Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) — 36 caps, 56 pts (4t, 9c, 4p, 2d)

14 — Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) — 12 caps, 60 pts (12t)

13 — Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) — 65 caps, 75 pts (15t)

12 — Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) — 75 caps, 50 pts (10t)

11 — Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath) — 28 caps, 86 pts (13t, 3c, 5p)

10 — Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers) — 12 caps, 80 pts (1t, 24c, 9p)

9 — Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) — 29 caps, 60 pts (12t)

8 — Duane Vermeulen (SA Rugby) — 73 caps, 15 pts (3t)

7 — Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) — 73 caps, 40 pts (8t)

6 — Siya Kolisi (captain, Racing 92) — 80 caps, 50 pts (10t)

5 — Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) — 70 caps, 15 pts (3t)

4 — Eben Etzebeth (Hollywoodbets Sharks) — 116 caps, 25 pts (5t)

3 — Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) — 66 caps, 5pts (1t)

2 — Bongi Mbonambi (Hollywoodbets Sharks) — 65 caps, 65pts (13t)

1 — Steven Kitshoff (Ulster) — 80 caps, 10 pts (2t)


16 — Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) — 10 caps, 10 pts (2t)

17 — Ox Nche (Hollywoodbets Sharks) — 25 caps, 0 pts

18 — Vincent Koch (Hollywoodbets Sharks) — 47 caps, 0pts

19 — RG Snyman (Munster) — 31 caps, 5pts (1t)

20 — Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) — 37 caps, 35 pts (7t)

21 — Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) — 52 caps, 48 pts (5t, 4c, 5p)

22 — Handré Pollard (Leicester Tigers) — 67 caps, 673 pts (7t, 94c, 145p, 5d)

23 — Willie le Roux (Vodacom Bulls) — 90 caps, 75 pts (15t)


Here is the France team named by Fabien Galthié on Friday:

15 — Thomas Ramos

14 — Damian Penaud

13 — Gael Fickou

12 — Jonathan Danty

11 — Louis Bielle-Biarrey

10 — Matthieu Jalibert

9 — Antoine Dupont (capt)

8 — Gregory Alldritt

7 — Charles Ollivon

6 — Anthony Jelonch

5 — Thibaud Flmanet

4 — Cameron Woki

3 — Uini Atonio

2 — Peato Mauvaka

1 — Cyril Baille


16 — Pierre Bourgarit

17 — Reda Wardi

18 — Dorian Aldegheri

19 — Romain Taofifenua

20 — Francois Cros

21 — Sekou Macalou

22 — Maxime Lucu

23 — Yoram Moefana


Some match info on tonight's game:

City: Paris

Venue: Stade de France

Capacity: 81,338

Kickoff: 9pm (France and South Africa time)

Match referee: Ben O’Keeffe, New Zealand

Assistant referees: Paul Williams, New Zealand; James Doleman, New Zealand 

TMO: Brendon Pickerill, New Zealand

Paris (English: /ˈpærɪs/; French pronunciation: [paʁi] ⓘ) is the capital and most populous city of France. With an official estimated population of 2,102,650 residents as of January 1 2023 in an area of more than 105 km2 (41 sq mi), Paris is the fifth-most populated city in the European Union and the 30th most densely populated city in the world in 2022. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of the world's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, culture, fashion, gastronomy and many areas. For its leading role in the arts and sciences, as well as its early and extensive system of street lighting, in the 19th century, it became known as the City of Light. — Wikipedia


To begin with, here is some of Liam Del Carme's build-up to this monumental quarterfinal below:

Sunday October 15 — 4.55pm

Hi, I am Marc Strydom, again your Times Live Blog host and this is a monstrous rugby match.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal that could easily have been the final. The three-time winners and defending champions the Springboks meet hosts and three-time losing finalists France at the 80,000-seat Stade de France in Paris at 9pm French and SA time.

It could scarcely get bigger. Fabien Galthié's formidable France have built a team capable of winning the World Cup on home soil. The Springboks have added dimensions to the side that lifted the trophy in Yokohama four years ago, coach Jacques Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus methodically replenishing the core of that team.

France had the stronger pool stage, winning all four games including against the All Blacks at this ground. The Springboks only lost against Ireland where errant placekicking cost them, and have had their share of issues to rectify in just about every game. So they're also yet to hit top form. On Sunday night, surely, it's a question of whether they will against the extremely determined hosts. 

The All Blacks raising themselves to show their knockout stage experience and beat No 1-ranked Ireland in last night's (Saturday) quarterfinal that Arena Holdings' senior rugby writer on Tour in France, Liam Del Carme, described as perhaps the greatest game in World Cup history at Stade de France has set the scene for another huge clash there on Sunday night.

Again, a quick disclaimer that, as those who know my byline will be well aware, I am a of course a football writer. But as an oft Shark Tank attendee in my teens, I have watched my share of rugby and will strive to bring you the action as best I can. Again, don't shoot me for any errors in rule interpretations or terminology, but feel free to comment on Twitter (@marc_strydom) — not calling it X, sorry Elon.

Also, I am of course not at the stadium, but again in my living room in Melville, Johannesburg, to relocate to either the Arena Holdings office as kickoff approaches.

Liam Del Carme is in Stade de France, and catch his report, post-match analysis and all his and TimesLIVE, Sunday Times, and TimesLIVE Premium's other coverage here

All the Rugby World Cup pools, fixtures and results here.

Build-up, teams and match info to follow ... and then the game. Stay tuned ...

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