The reason why Fourie du Preez values his bronze medal at 2015’s World Cup more than 2007’s gold medal is directly linked to why he believes the Springboks can win this year’s edition in Japan.
South Africa (in)famously experienced one of the biggest embarrassments in England four years ago, losing their opening pool match against Japan 32-34 in Brighton.
“If you ask me which performance I’m more proud of, it would be 2015’s,” said the legendary scrumhalf.
“That result was obviously a massive shock, but after that we pulled together it was a different team that ran onto the field … and that team almost won the World Cup.”
Heyneke Meyer’s Boks indeed recovered admirably to reach the last four, where they narrowly lost to the All Blacks 18-20 in a gritty affair.
More importantly, it’s the personal growth of the various players from that experience that Du Preez believes increases South Africa’s chances of success significantly.
The ‘survivors’ from 2015 (currently)
Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Handre Pollard, Duane Vermeulen, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Schalk Brits, Frans Malherbe, Beast Mtawarira, Francois Louw, Trevor Nyakane.
“A lot of the players that are still present got to experience some of the most pressurised situations any international will be exposed to,” said the 37-year-old, who represented the Green-and-Gold in 76 Tests.
“Many of them will be able to carry that wisdom into this year’s tournament.”
Indeed, 14 of Rassie Erasmus’ current national squad were present in England, including war horses Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Schalk Brits and Beast Mtawarira.
That number also prompts Du Preez to question why other observers believe Erasmus’ is merely using 2019 as an exercise for a full tilt at the 2023 tournament.
“About ten of the guys in Rassie’s match-day squads came within a whisker of winning the Cup. Shouldn’t these guys, four years later, be good enough to win the World Cup?
“Why do all the clever people still think they’re building? The Boks are as ready as anyone to win this tournament.”