South African Louis Ludik tips Ireland victory over Springboks in huge Rugby World Cup showdown

Louis Ludik in action for Ulster at Ravenhill in December 2019. Ludik believes Ireland will have the edge over South Africa in Saturday's huge Rugby World Cup clash (Photo: Charles McQuillan)
Louis Ludik in action for Ulster at Ravenhill in December 2019. Ludik believes Ireland will have the edge over South Africa in Saturday's huge Rugby World Cup clash (Photo: Charles McQuillan)

Ludik played over 80 Super Rugby games for the Lions and Sharks in his homeland before having a year in France at Agen. He then spent seven years at Ulster, winning over 100 caps.

Since retiring in 2021 Ludik took up a role as backs coach with Instonians, helping the Shaw’s Bridge club to back-to-back promotions and has started a successful food and drink business with his former Ulster team-mate and fellow South African Schalk van der Merwe.

Ludik will be firmly in the Springboks corner but thinks his adopted nation could win the game.

“It is difficult to turn that off, it is where I was born and I still feel patriotic about the Boks and I do support them,” he said. “But Ireland would be my second team and I’d support them, especially the fact that I know some of the guys that play there and would support them massively.

“This weekend is going to be interesting; my personal thoughts are Ireland will win this one. It is probably going to be close – I’d guess maybe three or four points difference – I think Ireland are going to take it.

“If we miss a couple of kicks that is going to be the difference, Manie (Libbok) and Faf (de Klerk) aren’t bad kickers, but they don’t have an 80 to 90 kicking percentage and that could be the difference on the day.

“If Libbok kicks everything over then it is a different story but once we start missing kicks that will be the big difference.”

Ludik feels South Africa are taking a gamble by having a seven forwards and one back split on their bench.

“I think it is a huge risk but obviously he [Rassie Erasmus] has a plan with it and he believes there are a few of the forwards that will be able to play in the backs,” Ludik said.

“It is a huge risk but they is going to take Ireland up front. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it but once you get one or two injuries at the back you’ll be in trouble.”

South Africa are bidding to be the first team to win four World Cups and like the previous three victories, Ludik believes the tournament will have a huge impact on the rainbow nation.

“South Africa has its problems – sport and especially the Springboks plays a huge role,” he said.

“You can see the difference it makes from 1995 and every year the Boks win the World Cup it just uplifts the whole country.

“Everybody supports and are very proud of the Boks, so it is very special and it makes a huge difference and definitely uplifts the whole nation.”

Ludik is relishing his role at Instonians and explained how he got onto the coaching ticket at Shaw’s Bridge

“Just before or during Covid, Clem [Boyd, Inst Director of Rugby] reached out to Ryan Constable [and asked] if he knew anyone that was keen to maybe play and coach with Instonians, and Ryan thought of me.

“At that time, I was still playing. Then Covid happen and nothing happened, it died down for a year or so.

“After I retired, I rang Clem up and asked if Inst were still looking someone to help out with the coaching and he said definitely.

"I joined the coaching group and that is basically how it all happened.

“I have been with them for the last two years since I retired; the first season we got promoted from junior rugby and then last year in AIL Division 2C we got promoted.

“The team did really well and we were quite fortunate that we didn’t have loads of injuries. The team played and clicked very well.”

Two-time English Premiership champion and European Cup winner Ian Whitten has joined Inst from Exeter, leaving Ludik coaching a player he played against professionally – and feeling old!

“It definitely does! It’s just one of those things – you get older and you retire,” he said. “It is enjoyable to coach and stay involved in the game but there is not much coaching you can do with a guy like Ian, he is a top rugby player; there are a lot of younger guys at Inst that will gain a lot of knowledge by just playing alongside him.

“It’s his communication and reading of the game and it is really beneficial for the younger guys to see what he does.

“All the Whitten boys are together now; David has joined which is huge, Ian and Alan are there and Robert is our captain, so it is awesome.”

Away from rugby Ludik has become an astute businessman.

“Schalk is my business partner, it is hard work; it is much easier to play rugby,” he added. “I tell the guys that are still playing to play as long as you can because once you retire, it is completely different.

“It is a lot of fun and obviously very challenging. For any small business it is very tough and a lot of hard work – it’s long hours and late hours but we can’t complain.

“I’m glad that I have something that challenges me so much after rugby and I think it made the transition easier.”