Springbok coach Jaques Nienaber believes that 2023 Rugby World Cup in France will be one of the most competitive tournaments in recent years. The defending World Cup champions are in Corsica this week for their final training camp, before the start of the global showpiece in just over a week’s time.
Defending champions South Africa are ranked second on the world rugby rankings and are likely to progress to the knock-out stage of the tournament out of Pool B. But according to Nienaber, it won’t be an easy feat. Nienaber believes that all the top ranked nations are contenders, especially the hosts and three-time finalists, France.
“I think France are the favourites but obviously we are the world champions and we can’t deny being world champions. It’s something that we are comfortable with being going into the tournament, there is a couple of teams I believe this are going to be one of the most closely contested world cups in history with a couple of teams that can perform on the day,” says Nienaber.
While the team has been giving it all on the training field this week, the squad also made some time to interact with local fans going on the charm offensive, like they did in Japan four years ago.
“From a rugby perspective we can work hard here and can prepare, and from a team perspective it’s nice for us to meet and mix with the people of Corsica. As a Springboks side, we enjoy that we like the fans, we like the people that’s why we play rugby. For us, it’s a good thing, we in Corsica, we get closer to the tournament and also connect with our fans,” Nienaber elaborates.
The tournament kicks off next Friday with a mouth-watering clash between hosts France and the All Blacks at the Stade de France in Paris, while the Boks and Scotland meet in Marseille two days later.
Video: 2023 Rugby World Cup is closely contested