The Springboks may have suffered another major Rugby World Cup blow following their final pool game against Tonga in Marseille on Sunday night. Seasoned wing Makazole Mapimpi suffered a suspected fractured cheekbone injury in the first half of the match, which the Boks won 49-18, to get to the brink of the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
The Boks’ pool play is now completed and they will have to wait until Saturday, when Ireland and Scotland clash to know who between the three teams go through to the last-eight. Tonga’s last game is against Romania, but both last eightout of the running to make the quarters.
Mapampi took a knock to the cheek early in the game in Marseille and was replaced by Jesse Kriel. After the game, coach Jacques Nienaber said: “Makazole has a fractured cheekbone, so he’ll go for scans on Monday to determine the seriousness of the injury.”
If Mapimpi is ruled out there is a possibility of Lukhanyo Am returning to the squad or the Boks may opt for another player in a different position, as they did when they recalled Handre Pollard for Malcolm Marx. Besides losing Marx to a knee injury, the Boks started the tournament without 2019 title-winning stars Pollard, Am, and Lood de Jager. Frans Steyn also called time on his career weeks before the tournament after recurring knee problems.
The Boks now face a week off before knowing if they qualify for the quarters, which should they progress, will only be played on the weekend of 14/15 October.
“As things stand now, one of South Africa, Ireland and Scotland will miss out on the quarter-final, but all three can still make it. The pool will only be decided on Saturday,” said Nienaber.
“It’s a positive for us in that it was similar to our 2019 campaign. We also finished the pool stages early and had a 12 or 13-day break, so we’ve done it before as a team.
“We’ll give the players two or three days off to get away from rugby and have a mental break, and then work on the things we can do better to stay in the competition until the end.
“We’ll only know the outcome of the France and New Zealand pool on Friday and our pool on Saturday, and then we’ll know which teams will face one another.”