Stunned South Africa can still win World Cup – Matfield

The experienced lock, who will lead the side against the Pumas on Saturday in their last test before the Sept.


18-Oct. 31 tournament, told Reuters the Springboks were raring to get on the field at Velez Sarsfield to make amends.

“We believe we can win (the World Cup) but our confidence is a bit down at the moment, the guys just want to change things around this week,” Matfield said in an interview at the team’s hotel in Buenos Aires.

“They want to get a good performance under their belts before they go to the World Cup so this is a very important game for us.

“We just want to go out there and execute our plan, be accurate in what we want to do and hopefully get a result as well,” added Matfield.

Argentina beat South Africa for the first time last Saturday, a surprise 37-25 Rugby Championship defeat that left the Springboks with the wooden spoon in the southern hemisphere tournament after they had run Australia and New Zealand close.

Matfield knows that preventing the Pumas from upsetting them again will not be easy but hopes South African pride and efficiency can come to the fore again.

“It isn’t going to be easy, I know the Argentines got a lot of confidence out of last week, they know they can beat us, they are at home, it will be a packed stadium after last week’s performance, they’ll have the whole country behind them,” he said.

“We are a very proud rugby nation and we expect to win every game we play in our country and we didn’t perform well so there’s a lot of pressure on the team, it’s a World Cup year, there’s a lot of expectation from our fans,” added Matfield.

“We know we disappointed our country last week and we want to rectify that this week. We really believe we are a team that can win the World Cup but we have to show that on the park tomorrow and have a big performance.”


Matfield recognised the quality of the Pumas, who had lost 18 and drawn one of their previous 19 meetings with South Africa but had run them close in both encounters in last year’s Rugby Championship.

“We had two games against Australia and New Zealand where we thought we played very well, the guys were very confident, maybe a little overconfident,” he said.

“(Argentina) did a few things right, they stopped our momentum and I think there was probably a little bit of panic in the team, we couldn’t get that momentum back and that put us under pressure.

“We have to give credit where credit is due, I think Argentina played really well, they scrummaged very well, they got penalties, we couldn’t get over the advantage line, it was a tough day for us.”

Matfield said South Africa had drawn some useful conclusions from the defeat that could stand them in good stead at the World Cup in England and Wales.

“When you play the Argentines it’s a bit different from playing Australia and New Zealand, it’s a more open type of game but I think that’s also what we’re going to face at the World Cup when you play England, Italy, Ireland, Wales,” he explained.

England, Wales or Australia, all in a tough Pool A, are potential quarter-final opponents for South Africa who are in Pool B with Samoa, Japan, United States and Scotland.

“It was a good learning curve for us last week and hopefully we can get things right this week,” said Matfield.

(Writing by Rex Gowar, editing by Tony Jimenez)