The Boks will be gunning for their third World Cup win when they battle it out in Japan. JOHN GOLIATH looks at some of South Africa’s memorable moments at the tournament.
Pieter Hendriks opens the Boks’ World Cup account …
South Africa missed the first two editions of the World Cup because of isolation, before hosting the tournament in 1995. The Springboks made their debut against world champions Australia on a lovely winter’s day at Newlands. Nobody gave the South Africans a chance to win the tournament opener, but the whole country started to believe when Pieter Hendriks spectacularly scored the Boks’ opening try. He first squared up the great David Campese, before showing his off his blistering pace to beat the Wallaby wing on the outside. His little fist pump on his way to the tryline is still an iconic image.
Chester Williams’ explosive comeback …
Williams was initially ruled out of the 1995 tournament because of a hamstring injury. It was a massive blow for the Boks, but Hendriks took his chances after his heroics in the opening encounter of the World Cup. However, Hendriks was suspended following the punch-up in the pool match against Canada, which became known as the ‘Battle of Boet Erasmus’. Williams replaced Hendriks in the squad after recovering from his injury and was included in the Bok team for the quarter-final match against Samoa. The Paarl-born wing then scored four tries to help the Boks get over the line. Back then it was a record for most tries scored by a player in a single Test for the Springboks.
The drop goal heard around the world …
The 1995 final was the first of two championship matches at the World Cup that were decided after extra time. The Boks got to the final after beating France in a thriller at a drenched Kings Park in Durban, while the All Blacks powered their way past England in Cape Town. The match was deadlocked at 9-9, with only a couple of minutes left on the clock, when Andrew Mehrtens’ attempted drop goal sailed wide and the match went into extra time. Mehrtens and Bok flyhalf Joel Stransky would kick a penalty each to level the scores at 12-12. However, with seven minutes left in the match, Stransky kicked the most famous drop kick in rugby history to give the Boks a 15-12 lead and a dramatic win against all odds. It was a kick that helped to unite a nation.
Jannie de Beer kicks England out of the 1999 World Cup
Jannie de Beer wasn’t South Africa’s first-choice flyhalf when they left for the 1999 World Cup in the United Kingdom and France. A certain Henry ‘Lem’ Honiball, considered by many to have been one of the best flyhalves of his generation, was injured and the Free State sharpshooter was given the nod to take on England in the quarter-finals. De Beer didn’t have the running ability or physicality of Honiball, but what he brought to the table was an unerring right boot that the Boks used to dispatch the English. De Beer scored 34 points on the day. He nailed all seven of his kicks from the tee, but it was his world-record five drop kicks on that afternoon that knocked the stuffing out of the English. They weren’t easy kicks either, as most of them sailed over from way outside England’s 22.
Fourie du Preez masterclass sinks England in 2007
Fourie Du Preez and Joost van der Westhuizen are regarded as the best scrumhalves South Africa has ever produced. Van der Westhuizen was big, strong and extremely quick for a No 9, and could turn a match on its head with a piece of individual brilliance. Du Preez, on the other hand, was a superb tactician, whose kicking and decision-making was unmatched during his playing days. England found out the hard way in a pool match against the Boks in 2007, when Du Preez ran the show with his vision and ability to make the right decision at the right time. The 36-0 scoreline was testimony of the Boks’ dominance, with Du Preez basically having a hand in all of the Boks’ tries.
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