Springbok assistant coaches Daan Human and Felix Jones and players, Cheslin Kolbe and Deon Fourie, received a warm reception online from the Corsica government and Corsica Rugby Football Union on Monday during an online media conference to introduce the team to the local media before their Rugby World Cup training camp at the end of August.
The Springboks will travel from London to Corsica for a week-long World Cup training camp following their last warm-up match against the All Blacks at Twickenham, which will be played on Friday, 25 August.
The squad will finetune their preparations for the global showpiece until Sunday 1 September on the mountainous island in the Mediterranean Sea, off the southern coast of France. They then travel to Toulon for their RWC opener against Scotland on Saturday 10 September.
Jones, Human, Kolbe and Fourie took time out of their Castle Lager Rugby Championship preparations to give the island media a taste of their French-speaking abilities to the excitement of their camp hosts.
While Jones stressed that the squad’s only focus at this stage was to produce a quality Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign, he admitted that the team were excited to wrap up their World Cup preparations in Bastia in two months, before making the journey to Toulon for the rugby extravaganza.
“We are currently training very hard for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, and when we get to Corsica, we’ll build on our training and get to grips with the conditions and set up well for the Rugby World Cup,” said Jones.
Kolbe – who has spent the last two seasons at French club Toulon – added: “We are excited to go to Corsica. It’s very similar to Toulon, so personally I’m quite excited to go back there, and the team are too.”
Human, who played for Toulouse from 2004 and 2012, echoed Kolbe’s excitement about the training camp, saying: “We’re looking forward to visiting Corsica and learning a few things about the island and their culture.
“It’s going to be an exciting and vital week for the team knowing that our next stop will be to our World Cup training base in Toulon.”
Human rejected suggestions that the Springboks were the favourites going into the World Cup, where they will have the extra weight on their shoulders as the defending champions, and said: “The last World Cup was four years ago, and a lot has changed in the rugby landscape since then. I definitely wouldn’t say we are the favourites.
“We are currently ranked fourth in the world and the competition is wide open going into this World Cup. Our only focus right now is on our next training session.”
The Springboks will kick off their season against Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, 8 July, in their opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship match.
They will then line up against New Zealand at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland (Saturday, 15 July), and Argentina at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg (Saturday, 29 July) in the shortened version of the southern hemisphere showpiece.
This will be followed by three Rugby World Cup warm-up games against Argentina in Buenos Aires (5 August), Wales in Cardiff (19 August) and New Zealand in London (25 August) before they make the journey to France for the World Cup.