CONFIRMED: Springboks reveal their end-of-year opponents
SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks will play four Tests on their year-end tour in November, while an SA Select XV game has also been confirmed against the Bristol Bears as part of a planned series of midweek games.
The Springboks will kick off their tour against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, November 5, and this will be followed by Tests against France at Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome a week later on November 12.
Italy await on November 19, with the venue yet to be confirmed by the hosts, while the tour will conclude against England at Twickenham in London on November 25.
Negotiations are also currently underway to arrange two more midweek games for an SA Select XV team during the tour, following confirmation that a fixture against the Bristol Bears at the 27 000-seater Ashton Gate stadium will be hosted on Thursday, November 17.
This will be the first time Bristol has ever faced South Africa in a friendly fixture and only the sixth international opposition in the club’s 134-year history, most recently 19 years ago against the USA at the Memorial Ground in 2003.
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These matches will complete what will be a challenging international season for the Springboks which already features the Incoming Series against Wales and the Rugby Championship.
“Our traditional year-end tour is taking shape, and the fact that we have confirmed one of the SA Select XV games already is great news,” said Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.
“The SA Select XV games will provide us with a chance to cast our net wider looks to build squad depth and give players as much game time as possible as the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France draws nearer.
“We only have a limited number of matches left before we kick off our Rugby World Cup campaign in September next year, and we need to use every opportunity we can to give the players game time to develop our player combinations and build squad depth.
“We have an enlarged squad of 42 players with us at the moment for the Incoming Series and hopefully we will have an opportunity to see what most of these players can do at international level as they look to throw their names in the hat for next year’s international extravaganza.”
Nienaber added: “We have constantly alluded to ensuring that we can take a squad to the World Cup with a reasonable amount of Test caps, and although the planned mid-week games are not Tests, it will be vital in keeping the players in tune with our structures and systems and giving them the chance to tour with us and play overseas. That is the only way once can build that type of experience.
“While we know the Test matches will be very tough, I have no doubt the Bristol Bears will provide challenging competition for our SA Select XV team, especially given their track record of having finished top of the Premiership table during the 2020/21 season and winning the European Challenge Cup in October 2020. So, we are under no illusions about the challenge they will present.”
Bristol Bears Director of Rugby, Pat Lam said: “This is exactly one of the goals that Steve [Lansdown] and Chris [Booy] had for the Bears and our supporters at Ashton Gate – to have an opportunity to play a World-class international team. Why not start with the current World Champions?
“This is a massive opportunity for all our players to test themselves against one of the best; for our staff to put on an amazing unforgettable event and for our incredible supporters to welcome and host South African supporters from all over the world to Bristol and Ashton Gate. November 17th will be a memorable night make sure you lock it in to be there.”
Bristol Bears chairman Chris Booy said: “This is a significant milestone for the club and really underlines how we far have come as the Bears. To host the World Champions at our home is incredibly exciting and it will be an event that will go down in the history books.
“South Africa are one of the World’s most iconic international teams with a vibrant and passionate fanbase. We’re grateful to the South Africa Rugby Union, Premiership Rugby and World Rugby for their support and co-operation in helping us to deliver this unique and historic fixture.”
Springbok year-end tour fixtures:
Saturday, November 5 – South Africa vs Ireland (Dublin – Aviva Stadium)
Saturday, November 12 – South Africa v France (Marseille – Stade Vélodrome)
Thursday, November 17 – SA Select XV v Bristol Bears (Bristol – Ashton Gate)
Saturday, November 19 – South Africa v Italy (venue TBC)
Saturday, November 26 – South Africa v England (London – Twickenham)