The Springbok team for Saturday’s third Test of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour against Scotland in Edinburgh shows six changes, including two personnel changes and two positional switches in the starting lineup, in what promises to be another very tough encounter for the South Africans.
Duane Vermeulen moves back to No 8 in place of the injured Warren Whiteley, while Pieter-Steph du Toit will pack down at blindside flank again, moving from lock, where he started against England and France.
Upfront, RG Snyman will start in the second row for the fourth time in his short international career, due to a decision not to rush Eben Etzebeth back from the injury he sustained against England, and Du Toit’s shift from lock to loose forward.
The only other change to the starting team is at scrumhalf, where Embrose Papier will earn his first starting cap for the Springboks. With Faf de Klerk released back to his club in England, Ivan van Zyl comes into the match-23 as replacement scrumhalf, while Lood de Jager will provide lock cover on the bench.
Whiteley is struggling with a calf strain and because he also won’t be ready for next week’s last tour match in Cardiff in Wales, it was decided to withdraw him from the rest of the tour.
The Scots have built a formidable home record over the past two seasons under coach Gregor Townsend. Since the start of 2017, they have lost only one of their nine Tests at BT Murrayfield, which was last year against New Zealand. During this time, they’ve also beaten Ireland, England, Wales, France and Australia at home.
While the Springboks want to continue with their recent progress, Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, has no doubt his side will have to show improvement against the well-organised Scots.
“Scotland is a well-coached side, they are difficult to break down and they will present us with a very tough challenge at Murrayfield,” said Erasmus.
“The matches in the northern hemisphere are all closely fought encounters, with the set-piece battle key, and it’s important to grab the big moments and finish your opportunities.”
Speaking on the selections for Saturday, Erasmus said: “Unfortunately Eben is still not fully fit and this which gives RG Snyman another great opportunity to start against one of the top rugby sides.
“Moving Duane and Pieter-Steph around in the pack isn’t disrupting at all, as both of them are very experienced and have played for us in these positions earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, flyhalf Handré Pollard will become the second most-capped Springbok No 10 when he make his 38th Test appearance on Saturday, surpassing 2007 World Cup winner Butch James’ 37 caps in that position. The most-capped Springbok flyhalf is Morné Steyn, with 64 Tests at pivot.
South Africa and Scotland have played each other 16 times at BT Murrayfield, with the Springboks winning 12 of those Tests for a win percentage of 75%.
The Springbok team to face Scotland in Edinburgh (in order of name, surname, province, Test caps, Test points):
15. Willie le Roux (Wasps, England, 51, 60 – 12t)
14. Sbu Nkosi (Cell C Sharks, 5, 20 – 4t)
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 38, 50 – 10t)
12. Damian de Allende (DHL Western Province, 35, 20 – 4t)
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (Xerox Golden Lions, 11, 30 – 6t)
10. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 37, 318 – 3t, 57c, 60p, 3d)
9. Embrose Papier (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 5, 0)
8. Duane Vermeulen (Kubota Spears, Japan, 44, 15 – 3t)
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Western Province, 44, 20 – 4t)
6. Siya Kolisi (captain, DHL Western Province, 39, 25 – 5t)
5. Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England, 27, 5 – 1t)
4. RG Snyman (Honda Heat, Japan, 10, 0)
3. Frans Malherbe (DHL Western Province, 27, 0)
2. Malcolm Marx (Xerox Golden Lions, 22, 20 – 4t)
1. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Western Province, 35, 5 – 1t)
16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Western Province, 24, 15 – 3t)
17. Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks, 7, 0)
18. Vincent Koch (Saracens, England, 11, 0)
19. Lood de Jager (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 37, 20 – 4t)
20. Francois Louw (Bath, England, 63, 45 – 9t)
21. Ivan van Zyl (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 4, 0)
22. Elton Jantjies (Xerox Golden Lions, 31, 223 – 2t, 42c, 43p)
23. Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, France, 5, 10 – 2t)
Stats and facts:
· The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 430. There are 182 caps in the backline with 248 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 182 caps.
· The average caps per player in the backline are 26, the forwards 31 while the players on the bench average 23. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
· Handré Pollard will become the second most-capped Springbok flyhalf with his 38th cap, surpassing Butch James with 37 caps as a flyhalf.
Records vs Scotland:
· South Africa’s overall record against Scotland at BT Murrayfield: P: 16; W: 12; L: 4; PF: 411; PA: 156; TF: 56; TA: 14; Average score: 26-10; Win%: 75%.
· The top Springbok scorers at BT Murrayfield are: Percy Montgomery (59 points, 17 conversions, 5 penalty goals); Joost van der Westhuizen (4 tries); and Jaco van der Westhuyzen (3 drop goals).
· The match records are: Percy Montgomery (26 points and 8 conversions); Six players have scored 2 tries; Morné Steyn (4 penalty goals) and Jaco van der Westhuyzen (3 drop goals).
· South Africa’s overall record against Scotland is: P: 26; W: 21; L: 5; PF: 686; PA: 286; TF: 86; TA: 28; Average score: 26-11. Win%: 81%.
· South Africa’s biggest win against Scotland (58 points) was on 6 December 1997 at BT Murrayfield when the Springboks ran in 10 tries with the final score 68-10. On the day, Percy Montgomery scored 26 points with two tries and eight conversions.
· The Springboks’ biggest loss against Scotland was on 16 November 2002 at BT Murrayfield when the visitors lost by 6-21.
· The first Test match at BT Murrayfield took place on 25 March 1925, when Scotland beat England 14-11 and thereby winning their first Grand Slam in the erstwhile Five Nations Championship.
· South Africa’s first Test against Scotland at BT Murrayfield took place on 6 January 1932, when Bennie Osler’s Springboks beat Scotland 6-3 in front of 74 000 spectators.
· Since that day, the Springboks have played 15 Test matches at BT Murrayfield against Scotland, plus a solitary Test against Spain as part of the 1999 Rugby World Cup tournament.
· The present seating capacity of BT Murrayfield is 67 144.
· The referee is Romain Poite of France, who is handling his 60th Test as a referee. To date, he has refereed 10 Test matches which involved the Springboks. South Africa have won six and lost four for a 60% win-rate.
· The assistant referees are Ben O’Keeffe from New Zealand and Frank Murphy (Ireland), while Ben Skeen (NZ) is the TMO.