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.
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.
Before Saturday’s clash, Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has praised the “aura” of Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton.
When is it?
South Africa v Ireland takes place on Saturday, September 23 with the match kicking off at 8pm BST, 9pm local time.
Where is it?
The Stade de France. This stadium was historically built for the 1998 Fifa World Cup and has been the national stadium for France ever since as well as the home for the country’s rugby team. Les Bleus first played here on 7 February 1998, when Philippe Bernat-Salles and the late Christophe Dominici both crossed the whitewash in a 24-17 defeat of England.
It has a capacity of 80,023 which is why it has been the stomping ground for so many big matches, in total, the Stade de France has hosted 97 men’s test matches – including an RWC 1999 quarter-final and the France 2007 final.
Who is the referee?
Kiwi referee Ben O’Keefe will take charge of the match. The 2023 Rugby World Cup is O’Keefe’s second as an official after he took charge of three matches at the 2019 tournament.
How to watch on TV
ITV has exclusive broadcast rights to show the Rugby World Cup in the UK. This match is on ITV1.
Radio commentary will be available only on the BBC, across Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra and the BBC Sounds service. The BBC says there will be a “bespoke output” in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
How do I get tickets?
To find out if tickets are still available, click through to the tournament’s official ticketing website.
What is the recent history between the teams?
Since 2010, Ireland and South Africa have faced each other eight times with each team winning four matches apiece.
Ireland have won the last two meetings – in 2022 and 2017, both of which were held in Dublin. South Africa were the winners of the two prior clashes.
South Africa lead the overall head-to-head between the two nations 18-9.
What are their pool matches and results?
Saturday, September 9: Ireland 82 Romania 8, Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux
Saturday, September 16: Ireland 59 Tonga 16, Stade de la Beaujoire (Nantes)
Saturday, 23 September: Ireland v South Africa, Stade de France (Paris)
Saturday, October 7: Ireland v Scotland, Stade de France (Paris)
Sunday, September 10: South Africa 18 Scotland 3, Stade Vélodrome (Marseille)
Sunday, September 17: South Africa 76 Romania 0, Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux
Saturday, September 23: South Africa v Ireland, Stade de France (Paris)
Sunday October 1: South Africa v Tonga, Stade Vélodrome (Marseille)
What is the latest news?
Rassie Erasmus has praised the “aura” of Johnny Sexton for Ireland ahead of their Pool B meeting with 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,” said Erasmus, the Springboks’ director of rugby. “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 with South Africa, 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. “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. 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.