Previewing the Springboks' pool at Rugby World Cup 2023

Previewing the Springboks' pool at Rugby World Cup 2023

The Springboks don't have a very easy path to the Rugby World Cup final this time around, but coming through a tough pool is sure to leave them battle-hardened for the playoffs.

South Africa have been drawn in Pool B for this year's tournament, which many are calling one of the toughest in World Cup history - the so-called Pool of Death - as it features three of the top five teams in the world with place for only two to advance to the quarter-finals.

That means there will be very little room for error in France, as even one bad day at the office could see the Boks' World Cup dreams end early.

Let's take a look at the Springboks' upcoming World Cup opponents.

Scotland (World Rugby Ranking: 5; Best finish: Fourth 1991) 

A deceptively dangerous opponent, Scotland have become a force to be reckoned with under coach Gregor Townsend.

They finished third in this year's Six Nations behind Ireland and France, and have enjoyed a strong build-up to this year's World Cup, highlighted by their impressive 25-21 victory over the French in Edinburgh last month.

The Springboks play Scotland in their opening match of the tournament and a victory is sure to set them up nicely for the tournament to come.

South Africa play Scotland on Sunday 10 September.

Romania (World Rugby Ranking: 19; Best finish: Pool stages)

Not there are any easy matches in a World Cup, but if there is one contest to allow the Boks a little bit of breathing room it is probably their second clash of the tournament against Romania.

The European outfit played in the first eight editions of the Rugby World Cup including the inaugural tournament in 1987 but missed out in 2019 after receiving a points deduction for fielding ineligible players in the qualifiers. Ironically, their return to the global stage in 2023 was sealed after Spain suffered a similar fate this time around.

Romania have never made it past the pool stage of a World Cup and it would take a minor miracle for them to do so this time around.

South Africa play Romania on Sunday 17 September.

Ireland (World Rugby Ranking: 1; Best finish: Quarter-Finals)

It doesn't come much bigger than the Boks' third clash of the competition against Ireland, currently the deserved top-ranked team in the world. If South Africa are to have any chance of topping the pool and securing an easier path to the final, they will likely need to down Andy Farrell's in-form Irish side. 

The Springboks suffered a 19-16 defeat in Dublin late last year but will back themselves to deliver an improved performance on neutral soil this time around.

South Africa play Ireland on Saturday 23 September.

Tonga (World Rugby Ranking: 15; Best finish: Pool stages)

While no match against a Pacific Island nation is ever easy, the Springboks should have enough firepower to dispatch Tonga, who recently finished last in the Pacific Championship, trailing well behind the likes of Samoa and Fiji who have both shown far more impressive form in the build-up to this year's World Cup.

However, they are sure to be a handful all the same, and you can be sure the Boks won't be taking them lightly. By the time their final pool match arrives, the Boks will know exactly what needs to be done against the mighty Tongans.

South Africa play Tonga on Sunday 1 October.