Crunch fixture for Ireland at Rugby World Cup 2023

Conor Murray offloads despite a hard tackle from Sione Talitui of Tonga in their World Cup bout in Nantes. Photo: Brendan Moran.

IRELAND, – with their dazzling haul of 20 tries in just two outings, face an acid test in holders South Africa (SA) in their Rugby World Cup 2023 clash at Stade de France in Paris on Saturday (8pm).

With both countries unbeaten, it’s viewed as the defining fixture as to who will top Group B.

Interestingly, it’s the first occasion in which Ireland and South Africa will have met at the World Cup.

In their most recent meeting, Ireland beat the Springboks 19-16 during last year’s Autumn International Series in Dublin.

Overall, Ireland and South Africa have played each other on 27 occasions since their first meeting in 1906. SA have won 18 matches, whilst Ireland have won eight. There has also been one drawn match between the two sides (eight points apiece at Lansdowne Road in 1970).

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Like others from within Munster, Garryowen’s Conor Murray previously worked with Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber and his assistant Felix Jones.

“A lot of us have been coached by Jacques and Felix and we know what’s coming. Well, we think we know what’s coming, Jacques is always going to pull something out of nothing and something you didn’t expect,” Murray said.

“We’ve been watching South Africa and everyone else for a long time. I’m sure they will feel really good about where they’re at.”

Murray also reported that his father Gerry has made a tremendous recovery from a road crash incident near his home in Patrickswell earlier in the year, and that he, along with many other family members and friends, are in France enjoying the action.

After this weekend, Ireland will have a fortnights’ break before the concluding group tie with Celtic rivals Scotland in Paris on October 7.

Meanwhile, Munster face Connacht in another pre-season friendly at The Sportsground in Galway on Friday (kick-off 5.30pm).