South Africa and Ireland, two of the favourites for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, meet in a huge Pool B clash at the Stade de France on September 23.
Both sides maintained their unbeaten records in the second round of World Cup fixtures, with Ireland putting just shy of 60 points past Tonga before South Africa beat Romania 76-0.
The gaze of both squads will be fixed on winning the tournament and a success for either here will likely ensure an easier quarter-final clash, although with likely Pool A qualifiers France and New Zealand lying in wait, the advantage will hardly be a big one.
When is it?
South Africa v Ireland takes place on Saturday, Sept 23 with the match kicking off at 8pm BST, 9pm local time.
What is the latest news?
Rassie Erasmus has praised the “aura” of Johnny Sexton on the field for Ireland ahead of their Pool B meeting against South Africa in Paris.
Sexton’s bright start to the Rugby World Cup, becoming Ireland’s all-time leading points scorer with his try against Tonga, has been appreciated in the South African camp.
“He is vital in my opinion,” Erasmus said. “For a man at 38 to score tries like he did this weekend… as long as he is physically out there, there is no doubt about [his influence]. The aura he has about him is exceptional, not just for his own team but very intimidating for us as the opposition.”
Erasmus has distanced himself from reports that he could join the Irish Rugby Football Union after the Rugby World Cup by replacing performance director David Nucifora. Erasmus was successful with Munster before returning to South Africa and leading the Springboks to the Rugby World Cup title four years ago.
Nucifora, the Australian who has been in the same role since 2014, will step down from his position overseeing the success of the national game after next year’s Olympic Games. Erasmus oversees a similar remit as South Africa’s director of rugby, but dismissed the reports linking him with the Irish role during a press conference on Monday.
“No, I won’t be,” Erasmus replied when asked if he would be joining the IRFU after the Rugby World Cup. “There have been no talks and there is no truth in that. I am not sure where it started but definitely not. I haven’t chatted to them and I am definitely not following Jacques [Nienaber, who is joining Leinster as head coach replacing Stuart Lancaster].”
Erasmus confirmed that fly-half Handre Pollard would not be involved for Saturday’s huge game with Ireland at the Stade de France, after Pollard joined up with the squad on Monday following Malcolm Marx’s injury. Pollard has recently returned from a calf injury, playing for Leicester Tigers in the Premiership Rugby Cup over the weekend.
”[Pollard] will not be selected for this week apart from if we get two or three injuries,” Erasmus said. “It’s good to have him here, now he will get up to our intensity of training sessions. Slot in nicely. We have only played two games this World Cup, I’m sure somewhere we will use him but not this weekend.”
South Africa will wear a second alternate white kit against Ireland, given their current “hyper-jade” alternate kit used against Scotland is too similar in colour to Ireland’s home strip.