South Africa were officially welcomed to the Rugby World Cup at a ceremony in Toulon on Monday. The players were greeted by a welcome party and school children waving South African flags outside Toulon’s La Tour Royale.
The squad had a team photograph with the Mediterranean Sea as the backdrop before they signed autographs and took selfies with fans. South Africa go into the defence of the Rugby World Cup title with a renewed swagger and greater squad depth than recent years but are on a side of the draw that means they are playing “knockout rugby” from game one in France.
The Springboks produced thumping victories in their final two warm-up games, beating Wales 52-16 in Cardiff and inflicting a biggest ever defeat on New Zealand with a 35-7 win at neutral Twickenham as they seek a record fourth World Cup win.
Coach Jacques Nienaber will hope they are peaking at the right time and has admitted they are better equipped for success this year than when they lifted the trophy four years ago in Japan.
The Springboks will have to navigate Ireland and Scotland in their pool, after which one of France or New Zealand will likely be waiting in the quarter-finals.