It's Victor v Bakkies: Round 2

2015-07-10 15:52
Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It is almost unfathomable to picture Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha locking horns on opposing sides, but that is exactly what will happen when the Springboks take on the World XV at Newlands on Saturday. 

Largely considered one of the best lock pairings in the history of the game, Matfield and Botha have won Super Rugby titles together at the Bulls as well as a World Cup title in 2007.

But now Botha is on his way out, and he will have one final big push on South African soil when he takes on Matfield and the Boks on Saturday. 

Botha (35) has confirmed that he is done with the game professionally, while Matfield (38) is involved in a World Cup campaign that will likely see him go out at the highest level in England over September and October. 

But as strange as it will be to Matfield and Botha up against each other on Saturday, it will not be the first time that it has happened.

"I played against him when he was, I think, 19-years-old and I was 21," Matfield recalled.

"He played for the Falcons. He was a loose forward and I think he was about 105kg and I was, at Griquas, I think about 120kg. So it's a bit different. Now I'm 105kg and he's 120kg ... or maybe even heavier at this stage."

The mutual respect between the two players is clear, and Matfield was looking forward to the unique nature of coming up against a man he has scrummed down with countless times. 

"It's going to be interesting. It'll be nice to do the toss with Bakkies ... I'm looking forward to it."

Looking back over his partnership with Botha, Matfield had fond memories.

"It was a special combination. We're very good friends. Our kids, our wives ... everyone is very good friends," said Matfield. 

"It was a great journey together and it's nice to go up against each other for the first time since we knew each other."

Matfield added that despite the friendship it would be all business on match day. 

"I think once we get to the park it's all about what we want to do this year. It's a very important game for us. We know what we need to do in this first game to get ourselves ready firstly for the (Rugby) Championship and then to nget us in the right frame of mind for the World Cup."

Saturday's kick-off is at 17:00. 



15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Oupa Mohoje, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jean de Villiers

World XV:

15 Delon Armitage, 14 Lachlan Turner, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 David Smith, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Bakkies Botha (captain), 4 Ali Williams, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp

Substitutes: 16 David Roumieu, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Flip Van der Merwe, 20 Louis-Benoit Madaule, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Rudi Wulf


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