Twelve members of South Africa’s triumphant Rugby World Cup 2019 team, including captain Siya Kolisi, are set to be reunited on the rugby field for the first time since they beat England in Yokohama on 2 November, 2019.
This Saturday the world-famous Newlands ground plays host to the Springbok Showdown which features two squads of 25, one ‘Green’ and one ‘Gold’, chosen via a live draft system. Kolisi will lead the Green team and Springbok team-mate Lukhanyo Am captains the Gold team.
Springboks past and present, Blitzboks from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Junior Springboks and the best provincial talent were among the list of 93 players originally identified to take part in this unique match.
Here are the Green and Gold teams for the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown.— Springboks (@Springboks) September 30, 2020
Don’t miss out on Saturday’s action - kick-off is at 17h05 and the game is live on SuperSport Grandstand.#StrongerTogether@CastleLagerSA pic.twitter.com/4L8XyLQvbl
Designed to help fill the void left by the absence of Super Rugby for South African sides, the Springbok Challenge will enable newly-appointed Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber to run the rule over South Africa’s best home-based players ahead of the start of The Rugby Championship in Brisbane on 7 November.
South Africa begin their campaign against Argentina in what will be their first outing as world champions, a year and five days on from when they lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time.
The enlarged player group was chosen based on performances in Super Rugby and the PRO14 earlier in the year, as well as last year’s Currie Cup, while the younger players have all been involved in South African Rugby’s Elite Player Development (EPD) programme in the last couple of years.
Nienaber is team commissioner for the Gold squad, which will be coached by Deon Davids, while the man who steered the Springboks to victory last November, Rassie Erasmus (team commissioner), and Mzwandile Stick will be in charge of the Green squad.
"We have the likes of Siya Kolisi, Duane (Vermeulen), Elton (Jantjies) and Frans (Steyn) that were with us at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, while we worked with some of the youngsters at a junior level, and it is great to give them a taste of a test week," said Stick.
Best of the best
The players and management arrived in their bio-secure environments in Cape Town on Sunday to prepare for the match and Erasmus cannot wait to see how the talent on show.
“This will not only be an opportunity to see the best of the best available in South Africa square off against each other in what promises to be something never seen before, but it will also provide the players with another valuable opportunity to shake off the rust and get the legs and lungs going after not playing any rugby in the last six months,” he said.
“The players will be encouraged to showcase their skills, individually and in their teams. And while it will be full-on, we’re expecting to see a highly competitive match of quality players against each other.”
Erasmus said that the players involved would get an insight into the Springbok culture and environment, but would be encouraged to showcase their own individual skills rather than follow a rigid game-plan.
“We agreed as coaches that we are going to share a lot with the players in terms of the Springbok environment,” he said.
“We want to show them how we do things, how our analysis systems work – both in terms of our game and the opposition – and setting a goal of the day, which we recap at the end of the day.
“We are also exposing them to the systems we use off the field, such as how players do their own analysis and plan the week in terms of time management, so there are several factors within the Springbok environment that we want the players to get used to.”
Do these guys from the Green squad have a future playing ping-pong? Like if you agree! pic.twitter.com/KyrgQuoopP— Springboks (@Springboks) September 29, 2020
Focusing on Saturday’s encounter, Erasmus said the teams’ style of play would differ to the Springboks’ usual style.
“Our message to the players this week is that they should use this opportunity to understand the way we work,” said Erasmus.
“What they don’t remember by Friday night they should forget, and they need to showcase their individual skills because that is what we would like to see. There won’t be a specific game plan, so it won’t be a Springbok blueprint imprinted in the players’ minds.”
The Springbok Showdown is due to be followed by a domestic seven-team franchise competition, from 10 October through to the final on 23 January.
Springbok Green: Gianni Lombard; Yaw Penxe, Wandisile Simelane, Frans Steyn, Malcolm Jaer; Elton Jantjies, Sanele Nohamba; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Luan de Bruin, JD Schickerling, Hyron Andrews, Siya Kolisi (captain), Arno Botha, Duane Vermeulen
Replacements: Schalk Erasmus, Kwenzo Blose, Thomas du Toit, JJ van der Mescht, Juarno Augustus, Junior Pokomela, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, Jeremy Ward, Kade Wolhuter.
Springbok Gold: Warrick Gelant; Rosko Specman, Lukhanyo Am (captain), Rikus Pretorius, Courtnall Skosan; Damian Willemse, Herschel Jantjies; Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni, Ruan Dreyer, Salmaan Moerat, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe
Replacements: Dylan Richardson, Dylan Smith, Carlü Sadie, Jason Jenkins, James Venter, Vincent Tshituka, Ivan van Zyl, Curwin Bosch, Werner Kok, Manuel Rass.