South Africa v Tonga, Rugby World Cup 2023: when is today's match and how to watch on TV

South Africa's Handre Pollard looks on during the captain's run in Johannesburg on July 28, 2023 ahead of their Rugby Championship match against Argentinia
Handre Pollard starts against Tonga after being drafted into the squad following an injury to Malcolm Marx - AFP/Wikus de Wet

Handre Pollard will start at fly-half for South Africa in their final pool match, today, against Tonga in Marseille.

The World Cup winner was recalled to the Springbok squad following injury to hooker Malcolm Marx and will now have his chance to stake a claim for a place in starting XV in the quarter finals.

South Africa lost an epic encounter against Ireland in their previous match but will now look to flex their muscles before enjoying an extended break ahead of the quarter-finals.

Click here for the latest news and here for full team news.

When is it?

South Africa play Tonga today, Sunday, October 1, with the match kicking off at 8pm BST (9pm local time).

Where is it?

At the Stade de Marseille – the iconic venue that is home to Olympique de Marseille football club. It hosted matches during the 2007 Rugby World Cup, when it staged two quarter-finals, as well as the 1938 and 1998 football World Cups.

France have played 13 rugby Tests at the venue and it also hosted the 2022 Champions Cup Final. It has a capacity of 67,847 for the RWC.

The Stade de Marseille
The Stade de Marseille is hosting four pool matches and two quarter-finals at RWC 2023 - AFP/Nicolas Tucat

What are the teams?

South Africa

Jacques Nienaber makes 12 changes to the side which lost to Ireland last weekend, with Pollard, Deon Fourie, Duan Vermuelen and Grant Williams among those to come in.

1 Ox Nche 
2 Deon Fourie 
3 Vincent Koch 
4 Eben Etzebeth 
5 Marvin Orie
6 Siya Kolisi (c)
7 Duane Vermeulen
8 Jasper Wiese
9 Cobus Reinach
10 Handre Pollard
11 Makazole Mapimpi
12 Andre Esterhuizen
13 Canan Moodie
14 Grant Williams
15 Willie Le Roux

16 Marco van Staden
17 Steven Kitshoff
18 Trevor Nyakane 
19 Franco Mostert
20 Kwagga Smith
21 Jaden Hendrikse
22 Manie Libbok
23 Jesse Kriel

Who is the referee?

Luke Pearce will take charge of this fixture. The Briton is at his second World Cup, have made his debut at the tournament in Japan four years ago. This is his second match in France, having refereed Australia v Georgia, and he will also take charge of Fiji v Portugal.

How to watch on TV

ITV has exclusive broadcast rights to show the Rugby World Cup in the UK. This match will be on ITV1.

Read Telegraph Sport’s analysis of the best TV commentators and pundits.

Radio commentary will be available only on the BBC, across Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra and the BBC Sounds service.

How do I get tickets?

Tickets for this match were still available earlier in the week and can be purchased via the official Rugby World Cup ticket portal.

What is the recent history between the teams?

South Africa and Tonga have only played each twice before, in a 1997 Test match and at the 2007 World Cup, with the Springboks winning on both occasions 74-10 and 30-25 respectively.

What are South Africa’s pool fixtures and results?

What are Tonga’s pool fixtures and results?

Who is in the South Africa squad?

Forwards: Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Handre Pollard (replaced Malcolm Marx), Eben Etzebeth, Jean Kleyn, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (c), Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Deon Fourie, Franco Mostert.

Backs: Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams, Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse, Damian de Allende, Andre Esterhuizen, Jesse Kriel, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Canan Moodie.

Who is in the Tonga squad?

Forwards: Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Feao Fotuaika, Tau Koloamatangi, Paula Ngauamo, Siua Maile, Samiuela Moli, Ben Tameifuna, Paula Latu, Sosefo ‘Apikotoa, Adam Coleman, Leva Fifita, Samiuela Lousi, Sitiveni Mafi, Vaea Fifita, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Semisi Paea, Solomone Funaki, Sione Vailanu, Sione Havili Talitui.

Backs: Sonatane Takulua, Augustine Pulu, Manu Paea, William Havili, Otumaka Mausia, Pia Ahki, Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala, Afusipa Taumoefolau, Fine Inisi, Solomone Kata, Salesi Piutau, Kyren Taumoefolau, Anzelo Tuitavuki.

Latest news

Duane Vermeulen watched South Africa’s defeat to Ireland from the coaching box but will be back on the field in a less familiar flanker role when they play Tonga.

The Springbok No 8, 37, is winding down his international career but will hope it does not end on the French south coast with South Africa potentially needing a bonus-point victory to stay on course for a quarter-final place.

He moves from the back of the scrum to the side to bring added physicality to a loose trio that also includes Jasper Wiese and Siya Kolisi against the powerful Tongan pack.

“There is not much difference at all, you are part of the back row,” Vermeulen said n Saturday. “It is not a big shift, just a change of number.

“I am looking forward to playing with Jasper, I have never played with him, only a little bit against him. I am looking forward to see how we pack down with Siya also starting.”

As for the Boks’ performance against Tonga, Vermeulen says they realise it is a do-or-die clash.

“There are one or two small things we need to work on, but I can definitely say we have some juice left in the tank,” he said. “We are going to have to do it tomorrow because there are no second chances.”

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