Gregor Townsend has insisted the 15 players he has selected to face South Africa have “earned the right” to start together as he challenged his burgeoning Scotland team to deliver on the biggest stage of all.
The head coach named a starting line-up on Friday with no surprises as key duo Darcy Graham and Zander Fagerson returned from injury and suspension respectively for today’s World Cup Pool B opener against the world champions.
The other teams in Pool B alongside the Boks and Scots are Ireland, Tonga and Romania.
When is it?
Kick-off is at 4.45pm UK time today (Sunday, September 10). That’s 5.45pm local time in France, and 5.45pm in South Africa.
South Africa v Scotland is the seventh match of the tournament, and the second game being played on the opening Sunday.
Where is it?
This is the second match of the tournament at Stade de Marseille (as it has been renamed for the World Cup). To most people is is still the Stade Velodrome. England’s opening match of the tournament was in the same stadium.
How to watch on TV
In the UK, ITV are broadcasting every match of the tournament. This one is on ITV1. In South Africa, the match will be shown on SuperSport.
You can read our comprehensive guide to the TV and radio coverage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, including our run-down of the 12 best commentators and pundits working in the sport.
Who is the referee?
Angus Gardner, the Australian, takes charge. Gardner was recently in charge for South Africa’s win over England at Twickenham, sending off Thomas du Toit, as well as Scotland’s Six Nations victory against Italy.
What’s the head-to-head record?
South Africa have not beaten the Springboks since the 2010 Autumn Internationals, when they won 21-17 at Murrayfield. In the seven matches since, South Africa have won every time. The most recent meeting was in 2021, when the visitors ran out 30-15 victors in Edinburgh.
The overall record between the teams is 23-5 in South Africa’s favour, including the two times they have previously met at a World Cup.
Who is in the Scotland team?
Darcy Graham has been passed fit after his pre-tournament injury scare. The 26-year-old Edinburgh wing – seventh on the national team’s all-time scoring list – missed the last warm-up match with a quad strain but, after coming through training in Nice this week, he has now been cleared to play.
Prop Zander Fagerson is also back in the team after being suspended for the last two summer Tests following his red card in the victory at home to France five weeks ago. The Glasgow front-rower goes into the match having played less than an hour of rugby since the end of last season.
In a selection featuring no real surprises, Jack Dempsey has got the nod over Matt Fagerson to start at No 8, with the latter on the bench. Captain Jamie Ritchie and the burgeoning Rory Darge complete the back row, with the experienced Hamish Watson missing out on the 23.
The Scots have gone for a five-to-three split on the bench, with Ali Price, Cam Redpath and Ollie Smith the three backs selected, meaning there is no place in the squad for in-form wing Kyle Steyn.
Scotland XV: Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh), Finn Russell (Bath), Ben White (Toulon); Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Rory Darge (Glasgow), Jack Dempsey (Glasgow).
Replacements: Dave Cherry (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow), WP Nel (Edinburgh), Scott Cummings (Glasgow), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow), Ali Price (Glasgow), Cameron Redpath (Bath), Ollie Smith (Glasgow).
Who is in the South Africa team?
South Africa have selected Damian Willemse at full-back and opted for a 6-2 split between forwards and backs.
Willie le Roux, the long-time first-choice No 15 for the Springboks, is among the replacements with the versatile Willemse preferred against Scotland, who are likely to take the game to South Africa with ball in hand.
Wingers Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe make up a pacey back three and Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel are a change to the centre pairing from the side that thumped New Zealand by a record 35-7 in their final warm-up game in London.
Jasper Wiese takes over at No 8 from 37-year-old Duane Vermeulen, who drops to the bench, but the rest of the pack remains the same with the only backs among the replacements scrumhalf Grant Williams and Le Roux.
South Africa XV: Damian Willemse, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Manie Libbok, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Grant Williams, Willie le Roux.
What are the odds?
South Africa to win: 3/13
Scotland to win: 9/2