London calling, possibly, for the Boks
Proposed clash against Wales will take the world champs into familiar territory
Having watched Ireland dismantle France in the opening match of this year's Six Nations Championship, the Springboks' management will be more desperate to firm up their proposed international season-opener against Wales at Twickenham in June.
The world champions have a mouthwatering two-Test series against the Six Nations champions and pacesetters on July 6 and 13 at Loftus Versfeld and Kings Park respectively, and the need to be sharp for those clashes cannot be overstated.
Ireland outplayed fellow Rugby World Cup quarterfinalists France, whose woes were compounded by having to play with 14 men for most of the match.
Though their clash against Wales is yet to be confirmed it would be prudent for the Boks to go into their home series with some exposure under the belt against the team that may soon dispossess them of World Rugby's No 1 ranking.
Playing Ireland, who had long held the No 1 spot in the lead up to the last World Cup in their first game after last year's final, might have been a marketer's dream, but the Boks will need to guard going into the series undercooked.
Some of the country's top players run the risk of going without combat for more than a month before the Ireland series. There is no guarantee of South African involvement, but Champions and Challenge Cup finals are scheduled for the weekend of May 24 and 25 in London, with the United Rugby Championship final set for a week later.
The match will also serve as warm-up for Wales before they tour Australia.
If the game gets the go-ahead, playing Wales in a neutral venue will not be a new experience for the Boks. Wales were the opposition when the Rassie Erasmus/Jacques Nienaber era kicked off in 2018 when the Springboks clashed with the Dragons in Washington.
A hugely inexperienced Springbok team narrowly lost that game as the established core of their squad prepared for a Test series against England.
London was also the venue when the Springboks played Wales at Wembley Stadium in 1998 on their Grand Slam tour.
The Boks will have fond recent memories of playing at Twickenham after their win there over England in 2022, but more pertinently their 35-7 demolition of the All Blacks last year in the final warm-up Test before the World Cup.
Playing in London with its considerable expatriate community holds the promise of a cash bonanza for South African Rugby with just over 80,000 people attending the Test against the All Blacks.
Besides, the Principality Stadium in Cardiff is earmarked as the venue for concerts by Pink, Taylor Swift and the Foo Fighters on consecutive weekends in June.
The Boks will also run out at Twickenham on the weekend of November 15 and 16 when they clash with England, the team they pipped in the World Cup semifinal.
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