South Africa feel pressure as they prepare to face much-changed USA
To outside eyes their crisis may have been averted but within the South Africa camp the eyes remain cold with focus as they approach their final pool match against the USA. If they win, they will top the group; lose, and they may yet be out.
South Africa in no mood to let their guard down against the USA
It is testament to the progress the less-established nations have made at this World Cup that we are careful to couch such a sentence with its full stock of conditionals. “The thing is,” said Bismarck du Plessis, who now seems restored as South Africa’s hooker, “the second tier nations are so much more competitive.
Georgia, Samoa and Japan – where it used to be that for the first 10 or 20 minutes they’d be competitive, now they stick it out for 80 minutes. That’s a good thing for rugby. It means we’re growing the game that I love.” Details
It is a great thing for rugby but it does make life more harrowing for those who are used to a smooth progression to the quarter-finals. Bryan Habana is the most experienced player in South Africa’s team for Wednesday’s game at the Olympic Stadium, which will be his 114th Test, but he has never known anything like the pressure of the past fortnight. Details