Bitter hosting battle adds spice to Ireland, Bok Test

2017-11-10 07:09
Joe Schmidt (Getty)

Dublin - The increasingly fractious atmosphere between the Ireland and South Africa bid teams for the right to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup adds an extra edge to their Test match in Dublin on Saturday.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will hope his players lay into their Springboks opponents as robustly as the Irish Rugby Football Union's CEO Philip Browne did in a letter this week to his World Rugby counterpart Brett Gosper about South Africa's topping the technical review that puts them in pole position to carry the day in the vote next Wednesday.

Schmidt, though, says he is not going to tell the players of the significance of beating the South Africans on the pitch with regards to the vote although he appeared to relish the thought of landing a blow days ahead of the vote.

"I hadn't thought about it and I don't want to put any more pressure on us," said the New Zealander.

"Gee, though, wouldn't it be great to put a really good performance in and put Irish rugby in the shop window ahead of the vote?"

Schmidt, who has guided Ireland to two Six Nations titles and an historic win over New Zealand last year in Chicago in the four years he has been at the helm, has had to field question marks over including New Zealand-born centre Bundee Aki in the starting XV a month after he became eligible under residency rules.

However, 52-year-old Schmidt is unabashed about his decision to do so in a selection that sees Aki link up again with former Connacht team-mate Robbie Henshaw.

"Sometimes where you are born is less relevant than where you have invested over recent years and Bundee has done that in the west for Connacht," said Schmidt.

"He has played an immense amount of rugby for them. I feel sorry for Bundee and hope he isn't distracted by that."

Schmidt will hope Aki - who has experience of playing the best in the southern Hemisphere having won the 2013 Super Rugby title with the Chiefs - is fully-focused as the coach knows a repeat of the Springboks performance in the 25-24 defeat by the All Blacks last month will provide the Irish with a stern test.

His South Africa counterpart Allister Coetzee though has paid the Irish the ultimate compliment in where he puts them in terms of northern hemisphere rugby.

"For us it's (the match) important because we have a huge respect for Ireland," said Coetzee.

"They are a quality side, and it's almost close to your All Blacks side in Europe."

Coetzee, who has made three changes to the starting XV that began the game against the All Blacks, is especially fearful of the outstanding half-back partnership of fly-half Johnny Sexton and scrum-half Conor Murray.

"The Irish have a world-class halfback pair and their set-piece play is extremely good, so it will be a great battle on Saturday," said Coetzee, who has managed to get the Springboks back to a better level than the one that limped round Europe last autumn.

"They know how to keep the ball and uses a good kicking game to put teams under pressure."

Coetzee for his part believes that his side will acquit themselves much better this autumn as one major factor has improved.

"To be honest with you, I was personally worried about our conditioning and this time around I don't have that sort of fear at all," he said.

Saturday's clash is scheduled for 19:30 (SA time).



15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Cian Healy

Substitutes: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 James Ryan, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Darren Sweetnam

South Africa

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6, Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi , 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Francois Venter


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Saturday, 02 June 2018
Wales v South Africa, RFK Stadium 23:00
Saturday, 09 June 2018
South Africa v England, Emirates Airline Park 17:05
Saturday, 16 June 2018
South Africa v England, Toyota Stadium 17:05
Saturday, 23 June 2018
South Africa v England, Cape Town 17:05
Saturday, 18 August 2018
South Africa v Argentina, Jonsson Kings Park Stadium 17:05
Saturday, 25 August 2018
Argentina v South Africa, Estadio Malvinas 21:10

Who would you like to see start in the No 10 jersey for the Springboks in the first Test against England in June?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.