Springboks v Romania preview: World champions to run riot in Bordeaux

Dylan Coetzee
Split with Springbok Bongi Mbonambi and Romania captain Cristian Chirica.

Split with Springbok Bongi Mbonambi and Romania captain Cristian Chirica.

The second weekend of Rugby World Cup action has rolled into town and it is set to be another blockbuster round of fixtures.

After having opened their title defence with a bruising 18-3 win over Scotland, the Springboks march on with Romania next in the crosshairs. The Oaks come off a battering loss against Ireland in their opening clash despite their early try to take the lead.

The Boks have made several changes for this clash as four scrum-halves make the matchday 23, with Grant Williams on the wing and Faf de Klerk the fly-half cover on the bench. Despite all the changes it is still a strong side who will be heavy favourites for the clash.

Meanwhile, Romania has opted for a similar selection as they head into this one looking to find some redemption after conceding over 80 points last time out. Unfortunately for the Oaks, it does not get much easier for them.

What they said

Springbok boss Jacques Nienaber commented on his selection with his team’s versatility at the forefront of his thoughts.

“People were surprised when we picked four scrum-halves in the squad but we knew they offered us the skills and versatility to provide backline options to manage the challenges that tournament rugby gives you,” said Nienaber.

“They are all excellent scrum-halves, but Grant and Cobus can play wing and Faf has experience at number 10 – as do Cheslin (Kolbe) and Willie. We have the same versatility among our forwards.

“Grant played school rugby on the wing, and he has come on at wing before for us, so we are excited to give him this opportunity to start there and for him to gain international experience in the position.

“Faf is also one of our back up fly-halves in the squad, and the same applies to him, as it will be valuable for him and the team to get some game time in the position.

“We have been rotating and testing players in different positions since last season to put us in the fortunate position to have a group of 33 players in France that are closely matched in terms of their quality of play and skills, and who have been pushing one another for places in the last few months. It has allowed us to select a top-quality team for this match.”

Players to watch

Grant Williams on the wing is going to be very fun to watch. Typically a scrum-half but unbelievably fast and a player who can score from anywhere, as Scotland almost found out late on in last weekend’s match. Romania cannot afford to give him space or he will punish them.

It is hard not to speak about the sensational Canan Moodie who looks so comfortable at Test level. He has all the physical attributes and a mature head to match. It is the kind of game that is perfect for him to settle in to get his World Cup debut.

Special mention goes to Vincent Koch who makes his first start since the 2019 World Cup and has earned 28 caps off the bench during the four-year cycle. He is a world-class tighthead who is very solid at scrum time but also mobile in the loose. He will be relishing the chance to tear it up on Sunday.

Hinckley Vaovasa showed his class against Ireland where he could as an accomplished fly-half. Of course, he struggled to get the kind of ball he would have hoped for and that will be the case again. He needs to be brave in his decision-making against the Boks.

Captain and powerful number eight Cristian Chirica is a hard carrier and a sound defender. His team will need him to lead the way on the physicality front as the green and gold runners will come all game long.

Jason Tomane will be busy in the midfield after he showed promising signs in their last outing. A strong ball carrier who looks comfortable in contact. It will be a big game for him against two in-form Springboks.


Similarly to last time out for Romania, it is going to be tough. The Springboks do have superior quality and will be bruising in this encounter as they always are. There possibly could be glimpses of magic from the Oaks but not enough to come close. Springboks by 60.

Previous results

1995: Springboks won 21-8 in Cape Town

The teams

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Grant Williams, 13 Canan Moodie, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi (c), 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Jesse Kriel

Romania: 15 Marius Simionescu, 14 Tevita Manumua, 13 Jason Tomane, 12 Taylor Gontineac, 11 Nicholas Onutu, 10 Hinckley Vaovasa, 9 Gabriel Rupanu, 8 Cristian Chirica (c), 7 Vlad Neculau, 6 Andre Gorin, 5 Marius Iftimiciuc, 4 Adrian Motoc, 3 Alexandru Gordas, 2 Ovidiu Cojocaru, 1 Iulian Hartig
Replacements: 16 Robert Irimescu, 17 Alexandru Savin, 18 Thomas Cretu, 19 Stefan Iancu, 20 Damian Stratila, 21 Cristi Boboc, 22 Alin Conache, 23 Gabriel Pop

Date: Sunday, September 17
Venue: Stade de Bordeaux
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 BST, 13:00 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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