South Africa recently reclaimed the top spot in the world rankings following a 31-29 victory over New Zealand in the final game of the Rugby Championship. They left it late, as Elton Jantjies’ penalty kick just after the hooter was enough to seal the win.
It has been another fantastic year for the Springboks as they also beat the British and Irish Lions 2-1, prevailing in the last Test match to secure the series. Here is a look at what is left for this South Africa team to achieve.
Maintain Number One Spot In Rankings
Although South Africa are back to the summit of the men’s World Rugby rankings, there is still going to be a lot of work to defend that position. There is very little between themselves and New Zealand, which means the battle is going to continue going into 2022.
England and Australia will also have their eyes on that top prize. The former will be in action next in the Six Nations Championship which begins in February, where they are 5/2 second-favourites in the rugby union betting. Victory in that tournament would help them close the gap on South Africa.
This is now one of the best periods in South Africa’s history. They have had spells at the top of the rankings previously, but they have been short-lived. If they can continue to hold the top spot, they could establish themselves as one of the finest international teams of all time.
World Cup Preparations
The 2023 World Cup is less than two years away now and the Springboks will go into that tournament as the defending champions. Only one nation in history has been able to defend their trophy and that was New Zealand in 2015.
South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber will be using the next two years to give the opportunity to some of the less experienced international players to prove themselves. The majority of his current squad are in their late 20s and early 30s so they will be expecting to travel to France. The defending champions have been drawn in Pool B and will face Ireland, Scotland and two other qualifiers in the opening stage of the tournament.
Trip To UK Next On Cards For Springboks
South Africa’s next assignment will come in the UK as they are set to meet Wales on the 6th of November. A week later, they will travel up to Scotland, while on the 20th of November, they take on England.
All three of the above matches will be tough tests for the world champions as they will be playing away from home. Scotland, Wales and England have been in good form themselves and all offer different kinds of challenges for the Springboks to overcome.
Once their tour of the UK is concluded, South Africa will meet France. This will prove to be good preparation for the World Cup as they will become familiar with the conditions they can expect at the tournament in 2023.
For now, South Africa are the team to beat in international rugby. However, staying at the top can often be tougher than reaching it.