In naming his chosen few, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the 31-member squad that would represent South Africa in the Rugby World Cup would carry the country’s hopes on their shoulders. It would be a tough tournament, he cautioned. Jean de Villiers will captain the team.
Jean de Villiers would captain the South African rugby team, the Springboks, at the Rugby World Cup in England starting on 18 September, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) announced on 28 August.
Victor Matfield was named as vice-captain, and Schalk Burger would provide captaincy back-up for the 31-man squad.
“We’re going to England with the hopes of a nation on our shoulders and we would really like to make our country proud, but we’re under no illusions about how tough it will be,” said coach Heyneke Meyer.
It will be the first Rugby World Cup for 16 of the players, while six players who took part in 2011 were selected to represent South Africa again. The average age of the selected players is a little over 26 and their combined number of caps is 1 297.
- Willem Alberts
- Schalk Brits
- Schalk Burger
- Damian de Allende
- Lood de Jager
- Jean de Villiers (captain)
- Bismarck du Plessis
- Jannie du Plessis
- Fourie du Preez
- Pieter-Steph du Toit
- Eben Etzebeth
- Bryan Habana
- Zane Kirchner
- Siya Kolisi
- Jesse Kriel
- Patrick Lambie
- Willie le Roux
- Francois Louw
- Frans Malherbe
- Victor Matfield (vice-captain)
- Tendai Mtawarira
- Lwazi Mvovo
- Trevor Nyakane
- Coenie Oosthuizen
- Rudy Paige
- Ruan Pienaar
- JP Pietersen
- Handre Pollard
- Morne Steyn
- Adriaan Strauss
- Duane Vermeulen
Meyer said it was very tough to select the final squad from the wider training group that had been together for the last two months.
“Every single player in our wider group worked incredibly hard and to cut the squad to 31 was probably the most difficult selection I’ve faced in my coaching career,” he said. “In the end, the selectors decided the 31 players named were the best we have at the moment but that is not to say any of the others won’t have a role to play, with injuries a reality in our game.”
In the selection, consideration was also given to utility players – those who could move between positions.
“I think the squad has a great balance between youth and experience while keeping together the core of the team that did the country proud in the last few years,” said Meyer. “We also have a number of players who know what it takes to win a World Cup and their knowledge will be very valuable.”
Gratitude and support
A few players took to social media to show their pride.
“Honoured and privileged to be selected to represent my country at #RWC2015,” tweeted Pietersen. “So grateful and thankful.”
Steyn echoed his sentiments: “Such an honour to be part of this again! #WorldCup2015 #SA.”
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) June 5, 2015
The World Cup
The Springboks’ first game will be against Japan on 19 September in Brighton. Their second pool game is on 26 September against Samoa in Birmingham.
The team plays Scotland in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 3 October before the final pool fixture against the USA in London on 7 October.
In the previous World Cup, in 2011, the Springboks reached the quarter-finals. But along with New Zealand and Australia, the Boks have won the most World Cup trophies at two each. New Zealand won in 1987 and 2007; Australia won in 1991 and 1999; and South Africa won in 1995 and 2007.
In other records, the least points conceded in a tournament were 35 by South Africa in 2011, while Habana ties with New Zealand legend Jonah Lomu in scoring the most tries in one competition. Lomu scored eight tries in 1999, and Habana made his record eight in 2007.
Source: South African Rugby Union
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