FINAL PREVIEW: All Blacks v South Africa (Rugby World Cup 2023)

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MATCH DETAILS: All Blacks v South Africa, Saturday 28 October, 9pm CET. (Sunday 29 October, 8am NZT)

Played: 105

Won: All Blacks 62, South Africa 39, drawn 4

Last time: All Blacks 7, South Africa 35 (25 August 2023, Twickenham, London)

Referee: Wayne Barnes


The All Blacks journey through the knockout stages to the final was one of contrast. In the quarterfinal, the All Blacks withstood a 37-phase assault from Ireland on the stroke of fulltime to sneak home 28-24. The semifinal was nowhere near as nail-biting with the All Blacks racking up seven tries in a comfortable 44-6 victory over Argentina. South Africa played out two dogged knockout matches which could have gone either way. In the quarterfinal, South Africa came back from an early deficit to knockout hosts France 28-29. Their semifinal against England was just as tense and hard fought. A long-range penalty from sharpshooter Handrè Pollard in the closing stages proved the difference in a 16-15 win over the 2003 champions.


All Blacks selectors Ian Foster, Jason Ryan and Joe Schmidt have made only one change in the Starting XV with Brodie Retallick resuming his quarterfinal combination with Scott Barrett while Sam Whitelock will be used from the bench. There is one additional personnel change to the reserves bench with 52-Test tighthead prop Nepo Laulala replacing Fletcher Newell. “It is an honour to fly our nation’s flag in the World Cup final once again,” said head coach Ian Foster. “We are proud of what we have achieved so far in this tournament, but the job is not done yet and we know full well the challenge that lies ahead.”


South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has made his intentions clear by selecting just one back reserve on the Springboks bench. Against England in the semifinal, South Africa had a 5-3 split and got a big boost from their bench in the closing quarter of the match. Five changes in total have been made for the final with two in the starting line-up and three on the bench. Faf de Klerk and Handrè Pollard re-unite at halfback and first five-eighth for the 25th time in Test rugby. Powerhouse players Jean Kleyn, Jasper Wiese and Trevor Nyakane come onto the bench.


All Blacks wing Will Jordan has equalled the record for most tries scored in an individual men’s Rugby World Cup tournament with eight tries so far at the 2023 edition. Jordan said after his hat-trick against Argentina, sharing the record of eight tries in a Rugby World Cup tournament with Jonah Lomu (1999), Julian Savea (2015), and Bryan Habana (2007), was humbling. They were legends in the game, especially being wings, and were trailblazers in how it was played. "It's cool to be able to follow in their footsteps and achieve a few things because wing for the All Blacks has been pretty prolific with some great players so it is humbling to be alongside those guys,” Jordan said.


All Blacks coach Ian Foster, who is bowing out after the Rugby World Cup, said the game encapsulates all that World Cup finals were about. "We have two teams who have been old foes for a long time. We all remember the last final between us [in 1995] which was an epic." Challenges of recent times have served to strengthen the resolve of the team Foster said. "We are where we want to be. We may have lost to France at the start of this tournament, but this team has thrived on focusing on the now. It's something we've loved doing. It enables us to deal with any outside noise around the team. That's massive credit to Sam [Cane] and the leaders that we've been able to stay in that place. We're in a World Cup final and we're excited."


South Africa have never conceded a try in a Rugby World Cup final, while they have kept their opponents tryless in 47% of their knockout fixtures (9/19) - the best rate of any nation. The All Blacks have scored a try in each of their last 38 matches in the Rugby World Cup, last failing to score in the Bronze Final in 1999, against South Africa.


Tune into NZR+ for the pre-match live show with Jim Hamilton and special guest pitch side at Stade de France. Stream the pre-match live show for free HERE.


All Blacks (caps in brackets):

1. Ethan de Groot (21) 2. Codie Taylor (84) 3. Tyrel Lomax (31) 4. Brodie Retallick (108) 5. Scott Barrett (68) 6. Shannon Frizell (32) 7. Sam Cane (c) (94) 8. Ardie Savea (80) 9. Aaron Smith (124) 10. Richie Mo’unga (55) 11. Mark Tele’a (8) 12. Jordie Barrett (56) 13. Rieko Ioane (68) 14. Will Jordan (30) 15. Beauden Barrett (122)

Reserves: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho (29) 17. Tamaiti Williams (7) 18. Nepo Laulala (52) 19. Samuel Whitelock (152) 20. Dalton Papali’i (31) 21. Finlay Christie (20) 22. Damian McKenzie (46) 23. Anton Lienert-Brown (69)

South Africa:

1 Steven Kitshoff 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi 3 Frans Malherbe 4 Eben Etzebeth 5 Franco Mostert 6 Siya Kolisi (c) 7 Pieter-Steph Du Toit 8 Duane Vermeulen 9 Faf de Klerk 10 Handre Pollard 11 Cheslin Kolbe 12 Damian de Allende 13 Jesse Kriel 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse 15 Damian Willemse

Reserves: 16 Deon Fourie 17 Ox Nche 18 Trevor Nyakane 19 Jean Kleyn 20 RG Snyman 21 Kwagga Smith 22 Jasper Wiese 23 Willie Le Roux


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