Boks embracing fervent French fanatics

The Springboks have admitted they have no choice but to embrace a hostile reception from a sold-out Stade de France during Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against France.

This weekend will see tens of thousands of blue-shirted fans flock to Paris as the tournament hosts continue to ride a wave of popularity.

Ever since Fabien Galthie took charge as head coach in December 2019, Les Bleus have captured the hearts of their nation and over 80,000 fans are expected at Stade de France for their biggest game in over a decade.

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This will present a challenge for the Springboks, as they look to continue their path towards defending the Webb Ellis Cup.

“I don’t think the crowd will be silenced, from what we’ve seen so far this World Cup,” lock RG Snyman said. “The support has been incredible.

“We will draw energy from each other and keep our focus tight so we can do our jobs out there,” he added.

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Assistant coach Deon Davids admitted that he expects the crowd to have an influence on the referee for Sunday’s quarter-final, making it even more imperative that the Boks improve their discipline.

However, Davids is confident that the Boks can adapt, as they know what to expect from last November’s clash with France in Marseille.

“I think it’s only human that the noise of the crowd affects you in one way or another,” says Davids. “However, I think the referees are professional and experienced in their work.

“It is difficult to judge and say a referee makes a certain decision about the pressure of the crowd

“I think there is a lot of pressure on everyone. It’s something we will have to accept and embrace. We have to control what we can and expect the referee to make the decisions within the rules and for the right reasons.

“We had a trial run of it at the end of last year when we played against France in Marseille,” Davids added.

“It was an absolutely wonderful atmosphere. The players experienced the same in 2019 against Japan (in the quarter-finals). Many of them will be used to it. We understand this is an environment to which we will have to adapt well. Again, our focus is on our execution and things we have control over.”

Photo: Sylvain THOMAS / AFP

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