WATCH | John Smit’s eloquent breakdown of the Boks-All Blacks final

27 October 2023 - 14:32
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Former Springbok captain John Smit.
Former Springbok captain John Smit.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

The Springboks' 2007 World Cup-winning captain John Smit has given an eloquent breakdown of Saturday's 2023 final between the Springboks and All Blacks.

In an interview with posted on YouTube, strolling down the banks of the Seine in Paris, Smit explained what the Springboks being in a World Cup final means to South Africa and what pulling on a green and gold jersey means to the players.

He said “rugby is life and a borderline cult” in South Africa.

A last match against the All Blacks “is for us the ultimate final — we haven't played a final like this since 1995”. He explained why the New Zealanders are South Africa's biggest rivals — “because they are the best”.

Springboks legend John Smit joins Jim Hamilton in Paris to talk through the upcoming Rugby World Cup final between South Africa and New Zealand at the Stade de France on Saturday.

He always believed the Springbok combination built by coach Jacques Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus had the ability to reach the final and he called pre-tournament that they would.

His only concern was the route they had to take because of the draw, against some of the best and most in-form teams. He believes the path the Boks had was “without a doubt” the hardest any team has ever had to the final.

Smit said the “Springbok affect in South Africa has escalated over the years and I think also because the team has transformed”, and rugby is a “game followed by so many more now than in 1995”.

He described the emotional build-up to pulling on a Springbok jersey as being “like the Hunger Games”.

Asked if 2023 has been the greatest World Cup ever seen, Smit did not hesitate saying: “Absolutely.”

Smit broke down how South Africa's challenge on Saturday is not motivation, which is not needed in a World Cup final, but finding the mental level and keeping control of the first 20 minutes. He sees Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Ox Nché as the Boks' key players. 

He praised the innovative approach of Erasmus and Nienaber and the genius of the “Bomb Squad”, which has transformed what it means to come off the bench.

South Africa and New Zealand square off at Stade de France in Paris (9pm).


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