10 Reasons South Africa Will Win RWC 2011
The Springboks will win Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand next year.
In doing so they'll become the first side to win back-to-back World Cups and register a record-breaking third win in only their fifth appearance at the finals.
Here are 10 reasons as to why the Springboks will triumph in New Zealand next year.
1. The Draw
The Springboks have a favourable draw in Pool stage of the competition where they are drawn in Pool D along with Wales, Fiji, Samoa and Namibia.
They kick off the defence of their title against Wales on September 11 in Wellington. Wales have only managed one win and one draw against the Springboks in 24 attempts. South Africa will go into the opening game as overwhelming favourites against their strongest opposition in Pool D.
The Boks are unlikely to lose against minnows Fiji, Namibia or Samoa in their following three matches with none of the three sides ever having beaten the mighty Boks.
If the Boks top their group are no surprises in the Pool C—where Australia and Ireland are the big guns—they should meet the Irish in the quarter-final.
That should set up a sem-final meeting with the winner of the game between either the All Blacks and either England or Argentina. Once again going strictly on form and world ranking at present it looks as if a showdown with the hosts in the semi-final is on the cards.
If they can get through that a World Cup final against Australia, France, England, Argentina or Wales awaits...
There are no ugly parts of New Zealand. That said, the Boks will be happy with a draw that keeps them on the more temperate north island.
They play two pool games in Wellington and two games in North Harbour where a large South African expat community are sure to turn out in numbers to support their homeland.
If the Boks top their group they'll have a third game at the Cake Tin in Wellington before moving back up to Auckland for the semi-final and final.
3. Winning Habit
The Springboks are the current World champions, Tri-Nations champions, Super 14 holders and they convincingly beat the British & Irish Lions in 2009.
They've also recently discovered the knack of beating the All Blacks in New Zealand and have shown they've got nerves of steel in the big important games.
They say winning is a habit and they say that for a reason. The Boks certainly seem to have picked up the habit.
4. Overseas Players
Players from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are drawn in to play in Europe and Japan by the lure of the Euros, Pounds and Yen on offer.
Unlike Australia and New Zealand—who refuse to pick overseas based players—the Springbok coach is allowed to include foreign-based talent in his team.
This means World Cup winners such as Butch James, Francois Steyn and BJ Botha may be included in the squad picked for RWC 2011.
Victor Matfield (95 Tests), John Smit (95), Bakkies Botha (66), Juan Smith (62), CJ van der Linde (60), Bryan Habana (59), Jean de Villiers (57), Jaque Fourie (56), Schalk Burger (56) and Fourie du Preez (55) all have over fifty caps and, if they're fit, are certain to be on the plane to New Zealand next eyar.
When you throw in Danie Rossouw (48), Ricky Januarie (43), Ruan Pienaar (39), Francois Steyn (37) and Butch James (36) who all have World Cup winners medals you begin to get a sense of just how much experience is available to Bok coach Peter de Villers.
*Statistics correct at 23 June 2010.
One of the benefits of building a highly experienced team is that there forms a queue of talented players knocking on the door for inclusion in the first team.
South Africa is blessed with truly frightening depth at the moment in almost every position.
You need only look at the second row—where Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and Andries Bekker are trying to squeeze into two positions—to understand the quality depth running through the squad.
Rossouw and Bekker would walk into almost any international side in the world, but will have to be content with a place on the bench at the World Cup unless there's an injury to one of the first choice locks.
Hooker, loose-forward and the midfield all boast a plethora of options making it more a question of who to leave out, rather than who to put in, for the Springbok selectors.
The Boks boast two of the finest kickers of a rugby ball in their ranks. Don't get confused between the two as they've both got the same surname... Steyn
Morne Steyn. He's the clean-cut flyhalf that has developed into one of the most consistent and deadly kickers in World Rugby. His accuracy and range are matched by very few kickers in international rugby and only Dan Carter and Jonny Wilkinson can claim to match his ability under pressure.
The Springboks can also call on a weapon without equal in Francois Steyn's prodigious boot. Steyn—provided he heals his rift with the coach and is picked for the World Cup—can land kicks from well inside his own half. A devastating range in the pressure-cooker atmosphere and tight games of a World Cup. He's the wild one with the mop of unruly blond hair that can be found in almost any position in the backline.
8. The Best Player in the World
The Springboks currently boast the best player in the world in Fourie du Preez.
This is a controversial and debatable call with many sure to disagree with my pick for the world's finest player.
The South African scrumhalf, however, has raised himself up into that highest echelon that Jonny Wilkinson, Richie McCaw, Brian O'Driscoll and Dan Carter have all occupied in recent times when making a legitimate case for being called the world's best.
Du Preez is recuperating from shoulder surgery that will keep him out for the rest of 2010. The surgery is to ensure he is fit and ready to go to New Zealand next year for a final swansong before he retires from international rugby and heads to Japan.
If he can recreate his form of the last three years then the Boks will have arguably the finest player in world pulling the strings for them in the number 9 jersey.
9. The New Powerhouse of World Rugby
For years the world sat and watched in awe of New Zealand as they churned out world class players by the bucketload.
The mighty All Blacks were almost unbeatable with their freakish talent and enviable depth making them consistently the best side in the world.
Things are changing, though, with the rest of the world begrudgingly taking notice of South Africa's achievements and growing influence on proceedings.
While New Zealand and Australia battle to hold onto their players and can only sit back and watch their players head overseas the Boks seem to be gaining in strength through this tricky period for the SANZAR nations.
The governing body is winning the war to keep key Springboks playing in South Africa and the schools, universities and clubs within the Republic continue to churn out talented young players.
10. The All Black 'Choke Factor'
New Zealand won the inaugral World Cup back in 1987, but have been forced to sit and watch for the last 20 years as Australia (1991), South Africa (1995), Australia (1999), England (2003) and South Africa (2007) have won the World Cup and carried the title as world champions.
This situation is simply unacceptable in rugby mad New Zealand and they continue to heap pressure on their beloved All Blacks to bring home the Webb Ellis trophy.
The pressure—both from their fans and the pressure which they put on themselves—has led to some high profile chokes.
Playing at home is normally a big advantage in Rugby Union, but the pressure will reach an all time high as they look to win their first World Cup in 24 years.
With South Africa posing a serious threat to their mantle of the world's finest rugby nation, the scene could be set for yet another high profile 'choke' from the All Blacks.