Ireland 13 South Africa 8 as it happened: Ireland beat defending champions

Follow all the reaction as Ireland make a statement win against the world champions in Paris


Ireland 13 South Africa 8


Here are the player ratings from the game by Johnny Watterson.

A talking point from the Ireland v South Africa game from John O’Sullivan.

That’s all from me for tonight, good night!


Wow, quite the atmosphere there at the pitch:

Garry Ringrose: I feel privileged to be part of a special day like this. There will be a couple of sore bodies this week. We will have to dust ourselves off and get ready for a really tough test against Scotland next week.

Andy Farrell: I think it was the type of game we thought it would be. A game of two halves. I thought we didn’t convert the pressure we had in the first half, the same for them in the second half. There was not much between them. It’s the next step in our journey.

Johnny Sexton: Hopefully the difference with this one is we will use it to go further than we have before. It won’t mean anything if we don’t get a result in our last game. The crowd is incredible, they give us the best days of our lives. It was a proper Test match, it’s always decided on the bounce of the ball, or a kick. We were lucky at times, but we will always look to improve.


Listen to post-match reaction coming up with Nathan Johns, Gordon D’Arcy and John O’Sullivan on the Irish Times Sport Twitter/X:

Bundee Aki speaking to RTÉ: These fans are incredible! It’s a joke! South Africa are an outstanding team. I can guarantee you we will see them again. As a group and as a team, we knew we had to be a lot better in all areas of our games. They put us under immense pressure, we trusted in each other and we had great belief in ourselves.


80 mins: It’s all on this. South Africa win the lineout, maul towards the line. Just short, Ireland hold it up, it’s a penalty to Ireland, and the referee blows the whistle. Ireland have beaten South Africa!

FULL-TIME: Ireland 13 South Africa 8

A superb performance by Ireland and what a result against the defending champions. Showed great character against tremendous pressure from the Springboks. Goal kicking made the difference in the end, South Africa missing a few important kicks. Some big turnovers when it mattered.

The moment Ireland won:


78 mins: Ireland steal possession, but Low kicks to Kolbe who runs into traffic. One last attack by South Africa. Kriel delays but tackled by Henshaw. Penalty to Springboks. Libbok kicks it long and accurately into the corner.


76 mins: Penalty for Ireland, Crowley! Big moment for Ireland... five minutes left. Strong scrum by Ireland and they win a penalty! Crowley in front of the posts, couldn’t miss. A five-point lead, Ireland need to avoid conceding a try.


74 mins: South Africa again putting the pressure on. Ireland turn over the ball yet again. Beirne kicks it long and Ireland end up with the ball about 20 metres out. Jack Crowley tries a drop goal and it’s blocked wide but Ireland get a five-metre scrum!


71 mins: Ireland really under the cosh, struggling to deal with the forward power. South Africa win a penalty and this time they kick to the corner, given their wayward goal kicking. But Ireland get away with it again! Fourie does not throw the ball straight and Ireland survive. Sexton is coming off for Crowley, he’s out in his feet. He gets a tremendous reception coming off.


Quick analysis from rugby journalist John O’Sullivan from the Stade de France:

“Ireland despite a misfiring lineout and some indiscipline after the interval were clinging to the lead by their fingernails, the suspicion is that if they continue in the same vein, they are not going to be able to hang on. So far, so brave, but the mistakes are threatening to ruin all the hard work.”


66 mins: Another missed kick from the tee from a penalty for South Africa, this time from De Klerk. Gibson-Park off for Murray. Ireland with a few more replacements, Baird and Bealham on. Knock on by James Lowe and another scrum for South Africa. Mistakes creeping in as fatigue hits.


62 mins: Ireland hold South Africa up, patient defence. Willemse with a poor pass and de Allende drops, scrum to Ireland. Big scrum by the fresh South African forwards and Ireland are penalised. Nyakane bulldozing through. Libbok goes for the penalty... and misses the penalty again. He’s had a nightmare from the tee and let-off for Ireland.


58 mins: Sexton scores penalty! Ireland starting to struggle with the pressure of the forwards. Turnover against Ireland, replacement Kwagga Smith making an impact. But Ireland win a penalty from a collapsing scrum. That’s one against the odds and it’s a penalty in front of the posts and Sexton goes for the tee. Ireland back two points ahead.


50 mins: Immediately the ‘Bomb Squad’ makes an impact, from the scrum they win a penalty. They choose a scrum.

TRY FOR SOUTH AFRICA! Springboks have the numbers over, solid scrum and brilliant long pass by Libbok to the open Kolbe who easily scores. Libbok takes a long time to take the conversion and then pulls it wide of the goal. Only a point in it then. Some better news, Dan Sheehan is back for Ireland.


47 mins: A penalty for South Africa from 56 metres, taken by Faf De Klerk. Brilliant kick and it hits the post! Falls down though fortunately to South Africa. South Africa call a maul but Ireland turn over the ball. James Lowe lifts up Etzebeth. Some strength. But here comes the ‘Bomb Squad’. Wholesale changes by the Springboks.


43 mins: Solid start to the second half by Ireland. Gibson-Park into the corner puts South Africa under pressure. Sexton grubber kicks back into that area. In the lineout as O’Mahony wins one off Etzebeth but then they lose their own lineout unfortunately. Quite the battle there.


One last attack for Ireland but Ireland knock the ball on.

HALF-TIME: Ireland 7 South Africa 3

Absorbing game of rugby. Ireland really grew into the game after a nightmare with the lineout early on, and deserved the try from Mack Hansen. Here it is again:

All to play for in the second half but Ireland will be encouraged after they were battered in the middle part of the half. By the end of the half, South Africa were happy for the break.


39 mins: Ireland growing in confidence. Nice long pass by Gibson-Park and Lowe tries a kick and chase but balls goes out the end line. From the scrum, South Africa are going nowhere and the ball is turned over again, this time by Van der Flier! Great last 10 minutes for Ireland, they’re competing really well physically.


37 mins: Good restart by South Africa and put Ireland under pressure within 5 metres of their line. Much better lineouts since the early part of the game though and Ireland win a penalty.


34 mins: TRY FOR IRELAND! Kelleher’s lineout is better. Ireland five metres out. They hammer away towards the centre. Sexton gets it under the posts and a super dummy and almost gets to the line. Good quick pass by Gibson-Park, then Lowe straight to Hansen in space. Nearly goes out past the end line but gets it down. Great moment for Ireland. Sexton converts from near the touchline, superb.


31 mins: Bundee Aki with a brilliant run through the middle of the South Africa defence. Breaks through and makes 20 or 30 metres. Ireland about 20 metres out. Springboks manage to slow Ireland down. After a minute, it comes back to Aki on the wing and another good run, plays to Lowe but can’t get through. They do win a penalty though. Sexton goes to the corner rather than shooting.


28 mins: Good kick by Keenan gets Ireland out of their half. South Africa kick into Ireland’s half again and Lowe gets stuck. But Ireland turn it over again and win the scrum. Low-scoring game so far, but enthralling it its own way.


24 mins: More bad news for Ireland. Sexton is down injured after being thumped by de Allende. But looks okay. South Africa on the attack and get near the line, but Ireland survive. Kelleher puts down for 5-metre scrum, solid scrum, but Doris steals the ball of Kolisi! Then Kolisi drops the ball in the next attack after clearing and Ireland win a scrum. Great defence, hanging on.


22 mins: Ireland safely win the lineout but South Africa but big pressure on Ireland, Etzebeth blocking Gibson-Park. It goes out of play again and Kelleher is penalised for not throwing straight. Oh dear. Ringrose off for HIA, Henshaw on to replace.


19 mins: Great turnover by James Lowe, Ireland win a penalty for not releasing. Great line speed. Sexton into touch again. Ireland win the lineout but it’s turned over and Ireland concede a penalty for not releasing. Springboks on the attack with pace. Willemse with a nice grubber kick into the corner. Under pressure.


16 mins: Ireland give away a penalty in the resulting scrum. Easy lineout for South Africa, Tadhg Beirne has a super steal but Caelan Doris drops the ball unfortunately. Just a few errors in their game so far.


14 mins: Better lineout this time and Ireland play to the wing. Great pass by Ringrose, big run by Hugo Keenan who bursts through and almost gets to the line, spinning all around! A few metres away and then they knock on in the next phase and it’s a scrum to South Africa. So close.


12 mins: Hansen catches the ball but is thumped with a tackle. Ouch. Ireland win a penalty, great kick by Sexton from well back into touch. The lineout has to be better this time... and it’s not. That’s four gone to waste. South Africa clear again. Disappointing.


10 mins: A disaster for Ireland from the line-out so far, three failed line-outs and turnovers have killed Ireland so far. Tough start for Kelleher.


5 mins: Sexton goes straight into the corner, brave and attacking move. But Ireland lose the lineout and then South Africa clear. Hansen drops it and South Africa out like a flash, kick it forward get a nice bounce and they’re on the attack. Willemse breaks through and Ireland concede a penalty. Back for South Africa’s penalty. A sign of their pace and power there.

Manie Libbock scores the penalty in front of the posts and South Africa go ahead.


3 mins: Early mistake by Kolbe gives Ireland a turnover. Ireland lose the lineout but then immediately win the ball back. A few phases for Ireland and they get advantage. Sexton tries the long pass but back for a penalty. Good start for Ireland.


Now time for Ireland’s Call and the South African national anthems. Only a few minutes left now to kick-off.


Some celebrity fans that will be playing in another important competition next weekend:

And rugby correspondent Gerry Thornley has a video from the ground:


Jamie Heaslip says on RTÉ that Johnny Sexton winning the World Cup would be like Messi winning it for Argentina in terms of his standing in the sport. Sexton’s try in Ireland’s last game against Tonga was a record-breaking moment, securing his place atop Ireland’s scoring charts, has been dealt with in depth. But the intricate build-up play reveals much about Ireland’s attacking growth. Read more about it here:

Check out the Twitter/X space on the Irish Times Sport after the game for immediate post-match reaction with Nathan Johns, Gordon D’Arcy and John O’Sullivan.


Matt Williams writes that Ireland must not allow South Africa to master time and space in this World Cup pool game.

“The Boks have studied the science and concluded that the pressure generated by using the negative, which is destroying their opponent’s space and time, is far easier to implement than the positive, which is creating those two essential elements for attacking rugby.

“The area between the attack and the defence is called the corridor of power. This is the territory where defenders and attackers battle over the space and time required by the attack to advance the ball. The team that dominates this space wins.”


If you’d like to know more about the Springboks, then this player profile article of their team is the perfect guide. John O’Sullivan looks at Jacques Nienaber’s starting 15 and Bomb Squad bench for Saturday’s at the Stade de France.


John O’Sullivan had a sit down one-on-one interview with Ireland coach Mike Catt before the game that is well worth a read. He grew up in South Africa, played for England, and now has a key role in an ‘amazing environment’ for Ireland at the Rugby World Cup.

“Mike Catt grew up wanting to play rugby for South Africa and emulate his heroes, Danie Gerber, Naas Botha and the Du Plessis brothers, Michael and Carel. A barefoot athlete from childhood, he adored the outdoor lifestyle afforded to him and his three brothers, Doug, Pete and Rich, the sunshine, hot summers and benign winter climate, living next to a beach and the compulsory two hours of sport a day at school.”

There is no need to pander to the Irish psyche and snuggle against the underdog comfy blanket. Catt argued that the squad can embrace favouritism and expectation based on performances and results. “It’s what it should be. That’s what normal is,” when you are the number one side in the world.


Some pics of the Irish fans going to the game tonight. Reports say there could be up to 30,000 Irish fans at the game supporting the team.


It is Bundee Aki’s 50th cap today. He could make the difference in Paris and has been in fine form in the tournament so far.

In his last appearance against Tonga, John O’Sullivan wrote:

“Ireland’s best player last week and officially ratified as such this time. He was Ireland’s primary outlet in getting over the gain-line in the first half, carried hard and straight and invariably gave his forwards a positive target. Beat 10, not a misprint, defenders. Two tries were a fitting reward. Rating: 9″


In some of the other games today, England are currently 57-0 up against Chile with Henry Arundell on fire scoring five tries. Here is his fourth try:

Earlier today, Portugal and Georgia played out a dramatic 18-18 draw where either team could have won the game in the end.


The Springboks will provide the ultimate test for Ireland’s attack, writes Gerry Thornley in his preview of this match.

“Both Farrell and Rassie Erasmus have opted for their strongest sides possible. It couldn’t be set up much better.

“The only meeting in the last six years was Ireland’s taut and gripping 19-16 win last November from which each side retain all but four of their starting XVs. With James Lowe, Bundee Aki, Jamison Gibson-Park and Ronan Kelleher starting, Dan Sheehan and Conor Murray now on the bench, as well as Robbie Henshaw, on balance Ireland look stronger.

“Similarly, Manie Libbok, Faf de Klerk, Bongi Mbonambi and Franco Mostert now start, but Malcolm Marx and Lood de Jager are sidelined. Their 7-1 split on the bench is clearly designed to intimidate but one cannot think of that happening to any Irish side under Farrell’s watch. Granted, the Boks’ final quarter amalgam of power and flair stretched Ireland to the limits last time.

“As against Scotland, they will contest every scrum, lineout and breakdown, and shoot up remorselessly. Nothing will come easy. There will be stress aplenty for Ireland, they’ll have to roll with the turnovers and keep playing.”


Hello and welcome to live coverage of Ireland’s biggest game of the 2023 Rugby World Cup to date, their meeting with defending world champions South Africa. Ireland come into the match pretty much unscathed after two convincing victories (82-8 against Romania, 59-16 against Tonga) and a relatively clean bill of health in the squad, even usual first-choice hooker Dan Sheehan is back in the replacements for this one. South Africa have been equally or more impressive however, beating Scotland and Romania conceding only three points in two games.

Andy Farrell’s men are number one in the world and have won an impressive 15 games in a row since July 2022 but face an experienced and powerful outfit in South Africa, who have courted controversy by including seven forwards on their bench for this game, the so-called “Bomb Squad”. This will be a serious physical and mental test for Ireland and might give an indication as to their level in their aspirations to win the Rugby World Cup.

Kickoff at Stade de France is at 8pm. The teams for the match are as follows:

IRELAND: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong; Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, David Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Ryan Baird, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Robbie Henshaw.

SOUTH AFRICA: Damian Willemse; Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Manie Libbok, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe; Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert; Siya Kolisi (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Jean Kleyn, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Cobus Reinach.