TOKYO – Springbok Duane Vermeulen will be playing in his 50th Test match as a No 8 in Sunday’s RWC quarterfinal against Japan in Tokyo.
It will mark a record appearance as it is the most Tests by a Springbok in this position.
In the lead up to the match, Vermeulen has warned his teammates to expect opponents who do everything at 100mph on the field.
“You know what’s coming but you’ve still got to stop it … you’ve got to pitch up on the day. That’s the most important thing for us,” said Vermeulen.
Japan qualified to play in this quarterfinal by winning all four pool matches in Pool A.
It is the first time they have progressed beyond the Pool stages in nine RWC tournaments.
Japan competed in all RWC tournaments between 1987 and 2015, winning four Test matches from a total of 28.
Their first win against a Tier 1 country was in 2015 against South Africa, beating them 34-32.
At the time it was described as the “greatest RWC shock ever”.
In this year’s tournament, the Brave Blossoms won all four of their pool matches which included Ireland and Scotland.
Less than a month ago Ireland were first on the World rankings with Scotland in seventh place and Japan in 10th. The current rankings are Ireland (4th), South Africa (5th), Japan (7th) and Scotland (9th).
Meanwhile, in Sunday’s showdown, Handré Pollard needs two tries to equal the career-record of Test eight tries as a Springbok flyhalf held by Morné Steyn.
The referee for the match is England’s Wayne Barnes. This will be his 15th Test match involving South Africa and the 88th Test match in his career.
The assistant referees are Ben O’Keeffe of New Zealand and Luke Pearce of England. Rowan Kitt from England will be the TMO.
African News Agency (ANA)