Terrifying South African star has earned a reputation as ‘scariest man in rugby’

While there's every possibility England do manage to overcome South Africa this weekend to reach the Rugby World Cup final, there is no doubt the Springboks pose a daunting task for Steve Borthwick's men.

A tense 30-24 win last weekend against Fiji booked England's place in the semi-finals, while South Africa produced one of the performances of the tournament so far to knock out hosts France. Rassie Erasmus' side beat France 29-28, in what some have described as the best game of rugby they have ever seen.

However, with the win against Fiji now well in the rearview mirror, England have been preparing all week to take on the Springboks, the side who beat them in the Rugby World Cup final four years ago in Japan. On that day, South Africa's pack physically dominated England, helping them to win their third World Cup title with a 32-12 win.

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One player who proved to be instrumental in helping the Springboks to achieve World Cup glory was the man dubbed the 'scariest man in rugby', Eben Etzebeth. At 31-years-old, Etzebeth, who stands at an imposing 6ft8in, has made 117 appearances for South Africa.

Against France, Etzebeth was at his destructive best, helping to force a turnover in the first half that led to speedster Cheslin Kolbe's counter-attack try, before dotting down in the second half to score what proved to be a pivotal try in helping South Africa win the game. In Etzebeth, South Africa have a physically imposing freak of nature, who is not afraid to get up in the faces of his opponents for a fracas on the pitch.

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In South Africa's 18-3 win over Scotland in the pool stages, Etzebeth got into an altercation with 6ft4in Jamie Ritchie, making the flanker look small by comparison.

In the past too, Etzebeth has never shied away from a confrontation. Back in 2022, footage of a furious Etzebeth shoving Australia prop Allan Alaalatoa hit social media, with the former looking as though he was about to seriously harm the latter on the pitch during their international test match.

England's rugby team will be aiming for glory in France, with Umbro supplying their kits for the tournament. It is the first time that the supplier have been handed the chance to produce the kits, with a traditional white home shirt emblazoned with the iconic red rose.

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However, once the dust had settled after the game, Etzebeth and Alaalatoa were all smiles, sharing a beer in the changing rooms post match. It probably also helped that South Africa won the game 24-8.

But it wasn't the first time in recent memory either the South African lock has seen red either. Back in 2017, when Etzebeth sparked a huge touchline brawl when he went after Australian full-back Israel Folau after he tackled his team-mate by pulling him down by his hair.

Taking matters into his own hands, Etzebeth, who was captaining the Springboks that day, shoved Folau into touch before proceeding to wrestle the Australian's team-mate Kurtley Beale.

The incident led to players from both sides piling into the brawl, attempting to cool tensions down. Afterwards, Etzebeth received a telling off from referee Ben O'Keeffe, but because it was a high tackle from Folau on winger Dillyn Leyds, he escaped without punishment.

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