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The top line on a Springboks to-do list for Rugby World Cup 2019 would be pretty obvious: Lift the Webb Ellis trophy again.
Under that there might be a note to beat the All Blacks in the pool stage. Big red cross next to that one.
And further down, maybe there’s an entry that reads, “Banish Brighton.” That’s where the Namibia game comes in.
No match has dismayed Springboks rugby more than the Miracle of Brighton, or misery of Brighton for South Africans, the bewildering defeat to Japan at the Rugby World Cup in England four years ago. It spurred one of those inspiring underdog movies, with the joyous Japanese team the stars. The other side of the story was it started a drastic two-year slump for the two-time World Cup-winning Springboks until current coach Rassie Erasmus started to put it right again.
Nothing in the form book suggests Namibia, the lowest ranked team at this World Cup, will blindside southern African neighbor South Africa in their Pool B match in Toyota on Saturday.
But that’s what they said before South Africa-Japan on Sept. 19, 2015, and before Karne Hesketh — born in New Zealand to compound it for South Africa — slid into the left corner in the dying seconds for the try that delivered the greatest upset at a Rugby World Cup.
It’s four years later and it’s South Africa’s first World Cup game against a Tier Tw
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