This weekend the Springboks kick off their Year-End Tour. A year out from the Rugby World Cup in France next year, this is traditionally a time to cement solid combinations and get clarity over a few players as we come to the end of a four year cycle.
Over the next four weeks the Boks will come up against the very best of the Northern Hemisphere and their first 2 games feature the top 2 teams in the World Rugby rankings. With just over a point separating the top 3 teams, any of them can claim victory on the day. Sportingbet’s rugby odds give some insight into who the favourites are, but at this level some rugby results are not easy to predict!
Here is a sneak peak into what international rugby fixtures lie ahead for the Boks as they look to send a clear message ahead of a Rugby World Cup 2023.
The number 1 ranked team in the world vs the World Champions, this is definitely a highlight of the rugby fixtures this weekend. It will be a sell out at the Aviva Stadium and based on current form and home ground advantage, it would be hard not to back Ireland.
The Irish are coming off a historic series win against the All Blacks in New Zealand and in many ways seem to be trend setters in the game at the moment. A good mix of flair, experience and grit underpins the Andy Farrell template. They are not afraid to have a go that is for sure and they will see a high tempo game as a big opportunity against the Boks
The Springboks however, are a proud bunch and they will be acutely aware of exactly what is at stake and more. The Boks have picked what could be described as the most exciting back 3 in World Rugby today. Cheslin Kolbe starts at full back and he is supported by Kurt-Lee Arendse and Makazole Mapimpi.
If Ireland decide to kick, and they will have to at times, they will have to be deadly accurate because anything slightly wayward could be costly. In arguably one of the most anticipated rugby fixtures in recent times, tactics will play a pivotal role in securing the win for either side.
S.A rugby is fiercely competitive so I will never write this Bok team off, but they will be up against it this weekend
After Ireland, it's off to Marseille where the Boks will face the French for the first time since 2018.
The Springboks have beaten the French in their last 7 fixtures. Their last test on French soil was a thriller in Paris. An 80th minute try from Bongi Mbonambi won it for Rassie’s men.
A lot has happened since then; in 2019 Fabien Galthie took over and transformed French rugby. Traditional French flair with an organised and aggressive defense has seen them win their last 10 consecutive games, picking up Irish, English and All Black scalps along the way.
France are now 2nd in the world rankings and the current Six Nations champions are heavily tipped to win the Rugby World Cup at home next year.
I personally can't wait to see a few exciting head-to-heads in this game. Dupont vs. De Klerk, Woki vs. Etzebeth, Alldritt vs. Wiese, Ntamack vs. Willemse, the list goes on.
I don't think this is one we need to worry about. It could be a great opportunity to give a few fringe players a chance to put their hands up before next year's World Cup. The Boks will have learnt in this year’s Rugby Championship that squad depth is vital .
We might see the likes of Evan Roos and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu get a fair crack. Could this maybe be the game to give Manie Libbok a start? Springbok rugby has always been based on a healthy mix of youth and experience, this fixture will almost certainly see some thrilling debutants.
I expect the Boks to be a bit tender after two massive clashes, but I can't see the Azzurri posing too much of a threat. An Italy win would most definitely make waves in rugby news, but I think South Africa will dominate.
All roads lead to Twickenham where the Boks take on England in what is always a tasty affair.
The last few matches here have not gone entirely to plan and the Boks will be looking to avoid a 4th consecutive defeat with a statement victory as they wrap up their tour.
Of course it would be remiss of me not to mention that in the middle of those defeats was a rather important match vs England that South Africans tend to mention without much provocation.
It's safe to say that game hurt the English, and there should be some serious edge on display as the Boks take on Eddie Jones’ men.
Nic Groom is a former South African Rugby Union player. He played scrum-half for the Cape Town based Western Province and the Stormers, representing the Cape side over 126 times. His time in Cape Town saw him win 2 Currie Cups and a Vodacom Cup and in 2015 he was selected for the Springbok incoming tour squad vs Ireland. He later signed for English Premiership side Northampton Saints and played 50 games for the East Midlands Club. After a thrilling 11 year career, which saw him represent the Barbarians, South Africa 'A', the Lions and Edinburgh Rugby, he finished playing at London Irish. Nic has played 229 professional rugby games.