JOHANNESBURG – One of the bigger challenges facing the Springboks this weekend is the late kick-off time in Paris - that of 9.05pm French time.
Nowhere else in the world do the Boks kick off Test matches later than when they face the Tricolors.
It makes for a very long matchday, and recovery afterwards a lot more difficult, than when games kick off at between 4pm and 7pm in most other countries.
“It’s because of the French who eat late,” explains former Bok assistant coach and current assistant at Stade Francais in Paris, John McFarland. “They want the fans to be out in the bars and restaurants when they kick off ... to watch the game there.”
McFarland added the Boks, who weren’t accustomed to playing at that time of the day, would have to “reset” their body clocks on Saturday.
“It’s a much longer day than normal ... and for those not used to it, the body is not attuned to being at its best at that time of the evening. The French are used to, with several of their Top 14 games kicking off at that time, so they have the advantage there. It’s a long day.”
According to McFarland, the Bok players will probably wake up at around eight or nine in the morning on Saturday, have breakfast at 10am and then go for a slow, short walk to get the body going.
“They’re then likely to have a light meal, probably chicken or pasta, have a sleep in the afternoon and then start their match preparation about four hours before kick-off. They’ll do some stretching, have a team talk and get themselves ready for the game.”
McFarland said then it’s a case of navigating through the Paris traffic.
“Depending on where the team are staying, it can be quite a trip from hotel to the ground. I remember in 2013 it was a nightmare to get to the venue; there was just so much traffic.
“The Boks have got a good recent record in Paris though, so let’s hope for another good performance.”
Kick off SA time is 10.05pm.@jacq_west