The Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for a record-equalling third time in Yokohama four years ago after beating England in the final, but will have to be at their best from the off if they are to progress from a very difficult Pool B.
South Africa and Scotland will also both come up against Six Nations Grand Slam winners Ireland, currently ranked as the best side in the world, with Romania and Tonga completing the group. The top two will progress through to the quarter-finals.
In their final match before heading to France, South Africa were rampant in beating 14-man New Zealand 35-7 at Twickenham, a week after hammering Wales in similar fashion.
Gregor Townsend’s Scotland, meanwhile, beat a second-string France side last month, before falling to a narrow defeat against a much stronger Les Bleus lineup as they produced a performance that will give them confidence of having an impact at the World Cup.
Date, kick-off time and venue
South Africa vs Scotland takes place on Sunday September 10, 2023, with kick-off at 4:45pm BST.
The Stade Velodrome in Marseille will host the match.
Where to watch South Africa vs Scotland
TV channel: In the UK, the game will be broadcast live and free to air on ITV1, with coverage starting at 3:55pm.
Live stream: Fans will also be able to watch a free live stream online via the ITVX website and app.
Live blog: Follow all the action from the game with Standard Sport’s dedicated match blog.
South Africa vs Scotland team news
Siya Kolisi is back for South Africa, with the inspirational Springboks captain completing a remarkable recovery from injury to be fit in time to lead his country in France. He had knee surgery in April and made a successful return against Wales last month.
South Africa are though without experienced fly-half Handre Pollard (calf) and centre Lukhanyo Am (knee) for the tournament.
Boks coach Jacques Nienaber has made four changes to the side that dismantled the All Blacks having named his team to meet Scotland two days early.
Cheslin Kolbe is back on the wing at the expense of Makazole Mapimpi, who isn’t even named among the replacements, with centres Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel replacing Andre Esterhuizen and the injured Canan Moodie. Jasper Wiese is also named at No8, with Duane Vermeulen on the bench.
Damian Willemse is chosen ahead of Willie le Roux at full-back, with Nienaber picking a 6-2 bench split after his much talked about 7-1 to face New Zealand.
Scrum-half Ben White is fit for Scotland heading into the World Cup, having suffered an injury scare in the first warm-up match against France. He recovered from that ankle issue to start last time out against Georgia.
Stuart McInally, Murphy Walker, Josh Bayliss and Jamie Dobie were the four to be dropped from the initial 37-man training squad.
Scotland show five changes from the side that beat Georgia, with Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson and Richie Gray all returning in the pack. Blair Kinghorn is in at full-back in the only alteration to the backline.
South Africa vs Scotland lineups
South Africa XV: D Willemse; K Arendse, J Kriel, D de Allende, C Kolbe; M Libbok, F de Klerk; S Kitshoff, M Marx, F Malherbe; E Etzebeth, F Mostert; S Kolisi (c), P du Toit, J Wiese
Replacements: B Mbonambi, O Nche, T Nyakane, R Snyman, M van Staden, D Vermeulen, G Williams, W le Roux
Scotland XV: Kinghorn; Graham, Jones, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe; Russell, White; Schoeman, Turner, Z Fagerson; R Gray, Gilchrist; Ritchie (c), Darge, Dempsey
Replacements: Cherry, Bhatti, Nel, Cummings, M Fagerson, Price, Redpath, Smith
South Africa vs Scotland prediction
Victory in this match would put either side in a brilliant position to qualify for the quarter-finals, easing the pressure somewhat before both play Ireland.
It’s hard to look past the Springboks, with that forward pack capable of overpowering any side in the world, and that big win over New Zealand was a major statement heading into the serious business.
Scotland might be able to stay within touch for the first hour or so, but the reinforcements off the bench should see South Africa pull away.
South Africa to win, by 15 points.
Head to head (h2h) history and results
Scotland have not beaten South Africa since 2010, winning just one of the last 15 matches between the two sides.
Scotland wins: 5
South Africa wins: 23
South Africa vs Scotland latest odds
South Africa to win: 1/6
Scotland to win: 4/1
Odds via Betfair (subject to change).