category: rugby news

Go green, say Boks

Mark Keohane18/9/07

Keo, in the Argus, writes the Boks will be wearing another shade of green on Friday night.

The Springboks will be willing Ireland to beat France as defeat for the hosts will eliminate them from the tournament.

Victory will ensure the French World Cup ambition lives on, as does the possibility of the Springboks facing France in a semi-final at Stade de France on October 14.

Jake White’s Boks are running hot at this World Cup, but the weather will be different a month from now and there can never be any guarantee that the form of today will be there tomorrow.

The Boks believe they can beat anyone, but it would make for a more comfortable semi final facing one of Ireland or Argentina than hosts France.

If there is a team capable of beating anyone in a one-off it is France. Equally they have shown themselves capable of struggling against anyone.

Friday night for France at the Parc de Princess is huge. It is a play-off match, while Ireland know they can still lose and get another life in beating the Pumas a week later.

The Boks, based in Paris, have enjoyed the lack of media scrutiny after being the flavour of the tournament in the opening week.

Having played two matches in six days the Boks are desperate to ensure they don’t drop their standards against Tonga, but it is unlikely we will see as complete a performance as against England.

There is a class gap in the first and second team, as we saw when one tripped over Connacht and the other trampled over Scotland.

White will merely want to get through this week with a win and minimal injury disruption. The win he will get because the Boks are too good to lose to the Tongans, but what the future holds in injury he cannot influence.

Johann Muller’s calf strain in yesterday’s training session already complicated Saturday’s selection and Albert van den Berg may be required to start at lock. Van den Berg was originally going to play flank, so as to give Danie Rossouw rest.

White this week will keep one eye on his team and the other on France, who finished off Namibia 87-10.

The French players were cautious to declare their World Cup campaign on track again, saying they could only say that if they beat Ireland.

Scrumhalf Jean Baptiste Elissalde told the media. “I don’t want to hear any superlatives about our performance because only yesterday we were only good enough to throw in the dustbin. Don’t raise us up after knocking us down.”

Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan acknowledged his team was in a crisis after they narrowly beat Namibia and snuck past Georgia 14-10, but he said there was more pressure on France to win on Friday.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the biggest match of my career, but it’s certainly big.”

The last time Ireland beat France was in Paris in 2000 and O’Sullivan’s side has lost their last five Tests against France, including the 2003 World Cup quarter-final in Australia.

France coach Bernard Laporte said his team needed a match like Namibia to give them momentum.

“It was very instructive despite the massive score,” said Laporte. “The World Cup route has opened up again.”

That World Cup route could include the Springboks - and ideally it is one confrontation White would want to avoid.

As well as the Boks have done against the All Blacks in the last four years, the opposite is true of their performances against France.

They’ve won only once in four starts and the only time they played at the Stade de France they were beaten.

The Boks, having turned on the charm in the first week, are very much a sideshow in Paris this week. But they know it is Friday’s main event between Ireland and France that means more to the Boks World Cup campaign than the manner of victory against Tonga in Lens.

MARK KEOHANE | | Tuesday, 18 September 2007 | Comment on this article

Mark Keohane

Don’t be a fool Jake … go on Sunday 17/10/07
As good as it gets for Poms 7/10/07
Go green, say Boks 18/9/07
Habana delights White 10/9/07
Boks will not bow to pressure 5/9/07
Pumpkin time for Aus duo 14/8/07
Pommy Bashing 9/8/07

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