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'I can't wait to play New Zealand': Why Springboks legends wanted the All Blacks

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Oct 2023, 3:52pm

'I can't wait to play New Zealand': Why Springboks legends wanted the All Blacks

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Oct 2023, 3:52pm

Appearing on the Rugby World Cup YouTube channel, former Springbok Hanyani Shimange was joined by South African legends John Smit and Schalk Brits to preview the Rugby World Cup final.

Smit on why they wanted to play the All Blacks in the final

The 2007 World Cup-winning captain says fans from both New Zealand and South Africa were eyeing up this potential final match-up.

“I think this is the World Cup final that both sets of fans will have prayed for and so we are getting a final that we always wanted against our old foe, the All Blacks.”

“Why do we talk about this clash more than we talk about any other clash? Because of the respect between the two countries and because the All Blacks are the one team that beat us more than any other team.”

“That’s the reality and they bring out the best in us, they test us the most and they’re the team we want to beat the most - they also love the game as much as we love the game and their passion for it supersedes any form of common sense, just like us.”

Brits on the two styles of play

The former test hooker says he feels the reason the All Blacks are so loved amongst the international rugby community is due to their style of play.

“Going back to style of rugby, people love the All Blacks with the style of rugby they play.”

Brits says the Springboks know their strengths and have gone back to playing the way that works best for them.

“I think we went to phases in our history where we tried to play like the Aussies, we tried to play like New Zealand but we went back to the South African way, we don’t want to play like them, we want to play like us.”

“Our DNA is scrum, maul, kick and we play to our strength.”

Finally, he echoes the sentiment of Smit, emphasising how excited he is for the Springboks to play the All Blacks.

“I just can’t wait to play New Zealand in a final.”

Brits and Smit on scrums

Shimange says he had heard some discussion around the final scrum of the Springboks’ quarter-final against England, where South Africa were awarded what was to eventually be the game-winning penalty.

Brits weighs in, saying he hopes the final comes down to one final scrum.

“I was on New Zealand Sky and they said ‘I hope it doesn’t come down to one scrum that determines the outcome of the match’ and I said ‘I hope it does come down to one scrum’.”

Smit says: “Go and watch rugby league, if you don’t like scrums, then go play league.”

“If you want to whine about the scrums, go watch league.”

On crowd boos directed at Ben O’Keeffe

New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe was in charge of the France v South Africa quarter-final and in the days that have followed, there has been a lot of noise from French supporters about his performance.

When O’Keeffe took the field to referee the South Africa-England semifinal, he was greeted by loud boos from the crowd.

Shimange says the crowd’s booing of referee O’Keeffe was “disgusting”. Smit agrees, saying “that was the worst moment, I couldn’t believe it”.

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