Ranking the top five performances from the Springboks in 2023

The Springboks became the second team in history to win the Rugby World Cup back-to-back in 2023 with a 12-11 win over New Zealand in the final.

In doing so they became the second-most successful Rugby World Cup side with four titles behind the Black Ferns with six.

However, the performance in the final wasn’t South Africa’s best of the year as they just squeaked past a 14-man opposition.

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Here are the top five performances of 2023 by the Springboks ranked.

5. Springboks 12-11 All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final, Stade de France Paris

The Rugby World Cup final only makes the list only because it was the final. The story from this game is that the All Blacks should’ve won, which means that the Boks nearly blew it, despite having a one man advantage for most of the match.

As far as performances go, it wasn’t peak-Springboks. They were essentially gift-wrapped the final when Sam Cane’s yellow card was upgraded to red and they held on by just a point.

After losing Bongi Mbonambi early the All Blacks read hooker Deon Fourie like an open book exam. Most lineouts were picked off as the All Blacks enjoyed complete dominance in the second half.

The only reason the Springboks are world champs again is because Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett missed kicks at goal, something that was completely out of the Springboks control.

It could be said that the defence of the Boks got them the win, and it did, but factoring in the one man advantage they enjoyed it is less impressive than it sounds. They actually lost 8-3 on the scoreboard once Cane was sent off.

As a team performance, it didn’t reach any great heights, but the individual performance of Pieter-Steph du Toit was phenomenal, at the level of his 2019 play.

If it wasn’t a World Cup final, this performance wouldn’t be on the list.

4. Springboks 18-3 Scotland

South Africa’s pool stage win over makes the list as Scotland came into the World Cup as top five ranked side.

They finished third in the Six Nations, losing only to France and Ireland, the top two ranked sides at the time. Scotland have been strong over the last few seasons and their attack has flourished with weapons out wide like Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham. They had dispatched Wales 35-7 in February on the back of sublime Finn Russell performance.

Unfortunately for Scotland, the Springboks threw Russell off his game and the Scotland No 10 had a rough outing as they only put up three points.

Defensively, it was an impressive outing against a quality opponent in what was a crunch match. Limiting a top five Test side to just three points is a significant showing.

It was a much more complete performance than the semi-final win over England by 16-15, which failed to make the list.

3. Springboks 43-12 Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

The first game played by the Springboks in 2023 was perhaps their finest attacking showing of the year. With Mannie Libbok at flyhalf, they used width often to go after an undercooked…

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