the six African players to follow at the World Cup

Two continental selections – South Africa and Namibia – will play the tournament that opens on 20 September in Japan. The opportunity to take an interest in some athletes.

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Cheslin Kolbe (in green) is No. 1 on the South African Springbok squad, who are among the favorites of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Here, in a match against Japan in Kumagaya, September 6, 2019.
Cheslin Kolbe (in green) is No. 1 on the South African Springbok squad, who are among the favorites of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Here, in a match against Japan in Kumagaya, September 6, 2019. Issei Kato / REUTERS

Rugby is also an African sport. Two teams from the continent, South Africa and Namibia, will be present at the World Cup, which opens on 20 September in Japan.

South Africa is one of the favorite teams. Already two-time champions, in 1995 and 2007, the Springboks have in their ranks many of the best players on the planet. And if the team of Namibia is, she, especially composed of amateurs, it remains … the second best team of the continent. She won her eighth continental title in 2018, but in five appearances in the World Cup finals, Namibians have yet to win a game. Still, if the two teams do not play in the same category, both have a few players to watch closely.

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  • Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa), Springbok's No. 1 asset

Even if it is only his tenth selection so far, Cheslin Kolbe is undoubtedly one of the strengths of Springboks. Arrived a little over a year ago, the 25-year-old winger soon became one of the team's executives. The Toulouse player who was first noticed in rugby sevens compensates for his small size (1.70 m) by his speed. During the 2016-2017 season, he joined Stade Toulousain and his adaptation to the Top 14 was done quickly.

  • Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa), "the beast"

His nickname, "the beast", he holds it to his size, 1,88 m, and his weight, 116 kg. The Springbok pillar impresses physically and, at age 34, counts 111 international caps since 2008. This makes him the most caped player in the history of the selection. Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, he left his country for South Africa, where he obtained citizenship. Unlike many of his teammates, Tendai Mtawarira has never evolved in Europe. He has worn since his professional debut the Sharks jersey of Durban. In Japan, he will play his third consecutive World Cup. Without doubt the last.

  • François Steyn (South Africa), a real monument

World champion in 2007, when he was only 20, François Steyn (32 years old and 61 selections) is a monument of South African rugby. In Japan, the center of Montpellier will play its third final phase, having missed the 2015 edition. Recognized worldwide for the quality of its footwork, it has allowed the Springboks to win on the wire the final of the 2007 World Cup .

  • Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa), rugby inheritance

In the rooftops, rugby is a family affair. Grandfather Piet du Toit wore the South African jersey between 1958 and 1961 and Pieter-Steph's younger brother, Johan, also plays at the Cape Stormers. The current second line of the Springboks, aged 27, will live his second World Cup. The powerful flanker – 2m, 120kg – now has 50 caps in a team that he also captained. Du Toit has the confidence of Johan Erasmus, the coach of the Springboks, who wanted to evolve the game of his team, long considered violent and not spectacular.

  • Johan Deysel (Namibia), captain

Captain of Namibia at this World Cup, center Johan Deysel (27 years old, 24 caps) is one of seven players in the selection coached by Welsh Phil Davies to evolve abroad, since he wears the colors of Colomiers, in French Pro D2. Johan Deysel started his international career with the Leopards in South Africa, almost obligatory passage for the best players Namibian then wanting to join Europe. The captain Welwitschias, already present at the 2015 World Cup, is one of the players on which Phil Davies will rely to try to finally get a positive result in the finals.

  • Eugene Jantjies (Namibia), back from an experience abroad

Welwitschias scrum-half is an old regular at the World Cup finals as he prepares for the fourth of his career. Aged 34, Eugene Jantjies (67 caps) is one of the figures of Namibian and even African rugby. This elegant player has spent part of his career away from his country, where rugby, although he tends to professionalize, remains mostly amateur. Passed by Romania and South Africa, Eugene Jantjies returned to Namibia in 2016, probably not to leave again.

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