TOYOTA, Japan — South Africa restored some order at the Rugby World Cup by putting away Namibia 57-3 on Saturday.
The Springboks’ second-string lineup was still a different level against the World Cup’s lowest-ranked team in a Pool B game that was only a side story to Japan’s shock win over Ireland hours earlier. That threw the tournament on its head and put Japan in ecstasy.
South Africa scored nine tries, five in the first half and four in the second. Hooker Bongi Mbonambi and winger Makazole Mapimpi had a pair each.
Namibia has never won a Rugby World Cup game and the gulf between the teams was clear — and big — despite them being southern African neighbors. Namibia also had players sin-binned in each half to make it much harder for itself.
Mbonambi got both his tries from rolling mauls. Flanker Francois Louw also got one from the back of a maul and the Springboks were going at a point-a-minute at one time in the first half. Winger Makazole Mapimpi and center Lukhanyo Am also crossed in the first 40.
After a rapid start, the South Africans were sloppy for a 10-minute period, though, before Am scored right at the end of the half to right that.
Flyhalf Cliven Loubser kicked a first-half penalty for Namibia’s only points.
The Springboks procession continued after the break. Mapimpi got his second and fullback Warrick Gelant, the attacking spark for the Springboks from the back of the field, got a try too.
Regular skipper Siya Kolisi came off the bench to dive over on the right wing with almost his first touch and stand-in captain Schalk Brits also scored and broke out into a big smile.
The game made Brits the second-oldest Springbok to play at a World Cup and the second-oldest man to captain the Boks at rugby’s marquee event.
Despite the blowout, it was the smallest winning margin ever for the Springboks over Namibia, which was on the wrong end of the heaviest loss in Rugby World Cup history. Namibia lost 142-0 to Australia in 2003 for the tournament record.