“What could be better” – France on quarter-final v South Africa
South Africa have won seven of their last eight matches with France, however, their only loss in those matches was their most recent encounter when France won in Marseille in November 2022.
Les Bleus have triumphed in a staggering 27 out of 28 fixtures at home of late but the defending World Cup champion Springboks will provide strong competition in Paris. France progressed to the quarter-finals unbeaten, including New Zealand’s first-ever Rugby World Cup pool-stage loss on the opening night, while the Springboks lost only one match in Pool B to Ireland.
France captain Antoine Dupont makes a return to the side only two weeks after surgery on his fractured cheekbone and both sides have promised a physical encounter in Paris.
France vs South Africa referee: Who is Rugby World Cup official Ben O’Keeffe?
New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe is one of the referees in France for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with the pool stage over, the Kiwi is poised to officiate in the knock-out stages.
It is the 34-year-old’s second tournament, having taken charge of three pool games as the youngest on-field official four years ago in Japan.
Here’s everything you need to know about the referee this evening:
Luke Baker15 October 2023 18:33
Manie Libbok given the nod ahead of Handre Pollard
South Africa have opted to keep Manie Libbok starting at 10 for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final, despite an expectation that the experience and superior goal-kicking of Handre Pollard might be preferred.
While Libbok is the more explosive fly half in open play and his creativity makes the Springbok attack click, questions about his kicking were raised ahead of the World Cup. He has failed to quash those at the tournament, with missed kicks costing them during the defeat to Ireland in particular.
Pollard is more reliable from the tee and, having recovered from injury, his late call-up to the squad had many expecting him to be given the start given the fine margins of knockout rugby. But head coach Jacques Nienaber is confident he has made the right decision.
“The big thing with Handre [Pollard] is the injury,” said Nienaber. “He was out for about 20 weeks and if he wasn’t, things might have looked different. We’re slowly building him up since injury.
“But Manie [Libbok] is our in-form fly half. I think we’ve only lost one game this year with him starting at 10. He’s in form and the team performs when he’s the starting fly half. You look at the way Manie drives the team, his point of difference in the games he’s started at 10 for us, we scored four tries to one – we score tries with him in there.”
Aside from Libbok, the Springboks have largely opted for an experienced team, with 15 of the matchday squad having played in the 2019 World Cup final where they defeated England.
“We’ve been working with most of these players since 2018 and we’ve been building a squad capable of defending our title,” added Nienaber. “We believe this group will offer us the impetus we need against a quality French side that will be playing in front of a passionate home crowd.”
Luke Baker15 October 2023 18:24
France captain Antoine Dupont fit and ‘fully ready’ for World Cup quarter-final
Captain Antoine Dupont has declared himself “fully ready” to lead France in the World Cup quarter-final against South Africa as he prepares to return to the starting XV just over three weeks after a broken cheekbone had him fearing his involvement in the tournament was over.
The 2021 world player of the year underwent surgery after going off injured following a head-on-head tackle from Namibia captain Johan Deysel in Les Bleus’ third pool match in Marseille on September 21, leaving the host nation fretting about their talisman’s availability for the remainder of the competition.
After resuming full training this week, Dupont has satisfied medics and coaching staff that he is ready to start the box-office Stade de France showdown with the world champions.
“I feel very well,” said the 26-year-old scrum-half, speaking at Les Bleus’ team announcement press conference at Roland Garros on Friday. “At the time, I didn’t know how serious the injury was so I thought the competition was over for me.
“I had to wait to get my hope back. I was lucky enough to have several weeks to rejuvenate and repair and have a full training week with the group.Today I am fully capable to be ready for this game on Sunday.”
Luke Baker15 October 2023 18:15
France and South Africa prepare to go to ‘dark place’ to keep World Cup dream alive
It was Steven Kitshoff who delivered the most chilling warning of what to expect at the Stade de France this evening. “You’re going to have to go to a dark place quite early in this game,” he grimaced.
And as the flame-haired South African prop continued, the lengths to which his Springbok counterparts and their French foes might have to go in order to reach a Rugby World Cup semi-final were laid out even more clearly. “Because of where the physicality is going to be, it might get to a point where some players haven’t been and we will see if both teams are willing to go to that dark spot,” he concluded ominously.
The Springboks are renowned for their intensity and sanctioned brutality on the rugby field – it has long been their calling card. Opposition used to try to out-think or go round, rather than through, them and, while this sometimes worked, the South Africans often prevailed. See the 1995, 2007 and 2019 World Cups for examples. Now, the best teams seem to have tacitly acknowledged that you need to physically match, or even bully, them as Ireland so brilliantly did last month.
Read the full preview of today’s game from our reporter Luke Baker, in Paris:
Luke Baker15 October 2023 18:04
South Africa team news
In a minor surprise, Cobus Reinach starts ahead of Faf de Klerk at scrum-half with Manie Libbok keeping hold of the No 10 jersey, despite an expectation that the experience and superior goal-kicking of Handre Pollard might be preferred.
De Klerk and Pollard are both on the bench in a more conventional 5-3 split of forwards to back, eschewing the controversial 7-1 split from earlier in the tournament.
South Africa XV: 15 Damian Willemse; 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe; 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Cobus Reinach; 1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe; 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Franco Mostert; 6 Siya Kolisi, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Kwagga Smith; 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Willie le Roux.
Luke Baker15 October 2023 17:52
France team news
France received a huge boost with news that talismanic captain Antoine Dupont is fit enough to be named as the starting scrum half.
Dupont – who is the face of the home World Cup in France – has been sidelined since suffering a fractured cheekbone in France’s pool stage win over Namibia, with fears that he would be ruled out of the tournament. France make no other changes to their starting XV with Maxime Lucu, Dupont’s deputy, dropping to the bench.
France XV: 15. Thomas Ramos, 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Gael Fickou, 12. Jonathan Danty, 11. Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10. Matthieu Jalibert, 9. Antoine Dupont; 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Peato Mauvaka, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Cameron Woki, 5. Thibaud Flament, 6. Anthony Jelonch, 7. Charles Ollivon, 8. Gregory Alldritt.
Replacements: 16. Pierre Bourgarit, 17. Reda Wardi, 18. Dorian Aldegheri, 19. Romain Taofifenua, 20. Francois Cros, 21. Sekou Macalou, 22. Maxime Lucu, 23. Yoram Moefana
Luke Baker15 October 2023 17:41
When is France vs South Africa and how can I watch it?
When is France vs South Africa?
The quarter-final is due to kick off at 8pm BST on Sunday 15th October at Stade de France in Paris.
Viewers in the United Kingdom can watch the match live on ITV1 from 7.15pm BST.
Registered viewers can also stream the match online for free on ITVX.
If you’re travelling abroad and want to watch the event, you might need a VPN to unblock your streaming app. Our VPN round-up is here to help and includes deals on VPNs in the market. Viewers using a VPN need to make sure that they comply with any local regulations where they are and also with the terms of their service provider.
Luke Baker15 October 2023 17:28
Is France vs South Africa on TV? Channel, start time and how to watch Rugby World Cup
The Springboks have won seven of the last eight Tests against France but fell to a dramatic defeat in their last meeting in Marseille last November.
This match will be only the second time the two sides have faced each other at a World Cup, the first being in 1995 when they met in the semi-finals. South Africa, the hosts of that tournament, beat France 19-15 to progress to the final where they would be crowned champions for the first.
France are unbeaten at this World Cup heading into the match, while South Africa suffered a loss to Ireland in the pool stages. The winner will face either England or Fiji in the semi-finals.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the match.
Luke Baker15 October 2023 17:17
France vs South Africa – LIVE
If you’re travelling abroad and want to watch major sporting events then you might need a VPN to unblock your streaming app. Our VPN roundup is here to help: get great deals on the best VPNs in the market. Viewers using a VPN need to make sure that they comply with any local regulations where they are and also with the terms of their service provider.
The Independent13 October 2023 16:08
France vs South Africa
Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of France vs South Africa in Paris!
Defending champions South Africa will hope to get back to winning ways against France while Fabien Galthié’s side look to maintain their winning run at home.
Follow along for live updates as they happen.
Imogen Ainsworth12 October 2023 17:42