Springbok Rugby Previews

HSBC Sevens Series: Las Vegas Sevens

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Las Vegas Sevens | Saturday 5 March – Monday 7 March | The Sam Boyd Stadium

Another fascinating installment of the HSBC Sevens World Series is in-store this week as the globe’s best sevens exponents descend upon the neon lights of Las Vegas. This week's tournament will see the mercurial Quade Cooper make his debut for the Australian Sevens side, while Bryan Habana and Ryan Kankowski are in line to feature for the Blitzbokke.

With a plethora of talent on display, this weekend's event promises to an absolute cracker.

IRB Sevens Series: Wellington Preview

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Wellington Sevens | 30th - 31st January | Westpac Stadium


After a month and a half's break, the Sevens World Series returns this weekend. This isn’t your average Sevens leg however, as some of rugby’s biggest superstars will be participating in the event. Sonny Bill Williams, Liam Messam, Ardie Savea, and one of the hottest young prospects in New Zealand, Akira Ioane, will all turn out for the All Blacks.

With a talented squad and home ground advantage, the hosts should prove a tough nut to crack, but that won’t stop the flying Fijians and the ever competitive Blitzbokke from trying to get their second tournament wins of the series.

Argentina vs South Africa Preview

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Argentina vs South Africa | Saturday 15 August | Estadio Jose Amalfitani | 21:40

The only performance worse than referee Romain Poite’s last Saturday, was that of the men in green and gold. Poite was as clueless as to what was going on at scrum time as Inspector Clouseau at the Pink Panther crime scene. Although many have cited the referee’s contribution as the main factor in the South African loss, in my mind the blame lies solely at the Springbok player’s feet. Whilst it’s nearing crisis mode in the South African set up, the Argentines have probably never experienced calmer waters. Their win last Saturday saw them secure their first ever finish above the foot of the table since the Rugby Championship came about. With the two teams experiencing polar opposite repercussions from last weekend’s encounter, this one may be a bit less friendly than its billing would have you believe. Both teams are traditionally not afraid to operate on the borderlines of legality and ironically, it may come down to how the referee controls proceedings.

Rugby Championship: South Africa vs Argentina Preview

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South Africa vs Argentina | Saturday 08 August | Kings Park | 17:05

The Rugby Championship’s two also-rans will close out this year’s abbreviated tournament in Durban this weekend. Both teams are without a win in the competition but it will be the South Africans who feel the more disenchanted with this year’s campaign. For Los Pumas, the campaign has gone according to script. For Meyer’s side, the script has tended to encompass a twist. South Africa will have to put the previous few weeks of late drama behind them as Los Pumas will be ready to capitalise on any signs of Springbok nerves, however if the men donning the green and gold perform to their capabilities it may be Puma on the menu at Kings Park. This should prove to be an entertaining encounter that offers more value for the punter than one would expect.

Rugby Championship: South Africa vs New Zealand Preview

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South Africa vs New Zealand | Saturday 25 July | Ellis Park | 17:05

What was shaping up to be the most anticipated game of rugby this year outside of the World Cup has been doused somewhat by a bucket load of injuries to the Springbok squad. Ideally, both coaches would have looked to this test as a measuring gauge to see how their teams cope in a high intensity encounter, as well as to use the match as a dummy run for a possible encounter between the two sides in the World Cup playoff phase. However, with the Springbok camp having more patients than some hospital wards, Heyneke Meyer is likely to field a very different looking team to the one that will be on the field during the business end of the World Cup. Despite some big name absentees, this still should be a typically fierce encounter between the two great rivals, especially considering it’s taking place at a stadium once famously dubbed “Fortress Ellis Park” by Springbok supporters and players alike.

Rugby Championship: Australia vs South Africa Preview

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Australia vs South Africa | Saturday 18 July | Suncorp Stadium | 12:05

Mid-day braais and beers will be in evidence throughout South Africa on Saturday morning as the Springboks come up against the Wallabies in the second Castle Rugby Championship game of the weekend. Both sides have fared better than their Argentine and New Zealand counterparts in terms of the fixtures draw. Meyer and Cheika’s charges will have the luxury of two home games, with the latter side’s second home game coming on the eighth of August against the All Blacks. The South Africans will travel back home after this encounter to prepare for the All Blacks who come to town next Saturday. With the tournament shortened to three rounds and each team only coming up against each other once, there will be a lot riding on the outcome of the game at Suncorp. Early points for either side could see their chances of claiming the Rugby Championship trophy greatly enhanced whilst a loss may leave them with little to play for.

South Africa vs World XV Preview

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South Africa vs World XV | Saturday 11 June | Newlands | 17:05

The Springboks start their World Cup preparations this weekend with a test against a star studded World XV side at Newlands. The match will see the return of Jean de Villiers who is likely to get some game time in the second half. It will also see some former ‘Boks take to the field in World XV colors, including hard man Bakkies Botha who turned out for South Africa in last year’s fixture against the representative side. With the World Cup close approaching Heyneke Meyer will use this game as an opportunity to test some new combinations and start finalising his squad to take to England. The two sides have met six times prior to this encounter with the Springboks holding an unblemished record against their globetrotting opponents. The last match between these two took place just over a year ago with the ‘Boks overcoming a spirited first half display from the World XV to run out 47-13 victors.

Wales vs South Africa Preview

Wales vs South Africa | Saturday 29 November | Millennium Stadium | 16:30

The Springboks will wrap up their slightly disconcerting tour of Italy and the British Isles this Saturday with what is certain to be a cracker of clash in Cardiff against the notoriously mettlesome Welsh. The Springboks will, of course, be looking to end off a relatively successful season with an impressive seventeenth consecutive win over the Red Dragons. But truth be told, the Springboks will return home from their tour with more questions than answers, regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s Test. Two mesmerising performances in the final rounds of the illustrious Rugby Championship against the Wallabies and the All Blacks led one to believe the Springboks were as close as they’ve been to the complete package for some years now. A month later a significantly depleted Irish side ran circles around their overconfident guests, exposing gaping holes in several areas of the Springbok game. They bounced back with a messy win over the English that really could have gone the other way, and struggled to gain control of last week’s clash against fourteenth seeded Italy.

Italy vs South Africa Preview

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Italy vs South Africa | Saturday 22 November | Stadio Euganeo | 16:00

The Azzurri face their toughest test of the year-end internationals this weekend when they take on a revived Springbok side seeking their twelfth consecutive victory over their Italian confrères.
Italy got off to a good start this season by securing a convincing 24-13 victory over Samoa two weeks back, ending a nine-game losing streak for the locals in Ascoli. Last weekend they ran out against a battle hardened Argentina, and thanks to an explosive performance early on the Azzurri went into the break with 12-10 lead. But Los Pumas, still smarting from their 41-31 defeat at Murrayfield a week before, came out from the interval the more determined side and scrapped their way to a narrow 20-18 victory.  

England vs South Africa Preview

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England vs South Africa | Saturday 15 November | Twickenham Stadium | 16:30

Any delusions of grandeur harboured by the Springboks following their fervent Rugby Championship victory over the All Blacks last month were short lived, as a substantially depleted Ireland powered past their overconfident opponents to a 29-15 victory in front of a boisterous Dublin crowd. The tourists will be ruing the bullish decision making that saw them refusing easy penalty points on several occasions, as well as the poor discipline that had them a man down when they could least afford it. Expect a more prudent, humble and composed Springbok side for the remainder of their tour of the north.

Ireland vs South Africa Preview

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Ireland vs South Africa | Saturday 08 November | Lansdowne Road | 19:30

A confident Springbok side heads for Dublin this week where they’ll take on this year’s Six Nations winners in the opening match of their end-of-year tour. The tourists will be hoping to carry the form that secured back-to-back victories over the Wallabies and the All Blacks in the final two clashes of the Rugby Championship through with them into this four-Test tour of the north. But with each and every side looking to make a name for themselves ahead of next year’s World Cup, even giant-slaying form might not be enough to see them through unscathed. Ireland have been in fine knick this year, managing six wins from their seven outings so far, with that excruciatingly tense 13-10 loss to England back in February being the only blemish on their 2014 scorecard.

Rugby Championship 2014: South Africa vs New Zealand Preview

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South Africa vs New Zealand | Saturday 04 October | Ellis Park | 17:05

The Springboks host the All Blacks at Ellis Park this weekend in a clash that promises to deliver all the intensity of a series deciding final, despite the title having already been decided in La Plata last Saturday. The Springboks did all they could to remain in contention for a maiden Rugby Championship title, staging a gallant raid on the wobbling Wallaby defence in the final ten minutes of Saturday’s clash at Newlands which resulted in a thundering three tries, claiming a coveted bonus point victory for the home side. But it wasn’t long before the All Blacks removed what very little hope the Springboks harboured of usurping their Rugby Championship crown this weekend, as the World’s top ranked side left little to chance in La Plata, bulldozing their way past a despondent Los Pumas side to come away with a deserved 21-point victory, and more importantly, the competition-winning bonus point. The title race may be over, but the promise of a shiny showpiece for the trophy case is never necessary to create the exhilarating winner-takes-all intensity we’ve come to expect from a Springbok-All Black showdown.

Rugby Championship 2014: South Africa vs Australia Preview

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South Africa vs Australia | Saturday 27 September | Newlands | 17:05

Cape Town will host a colossal clash between the Springboks and Wallabies this Saturday in the fifth round of exhilarating Rugby Championship action, and with the two sides currently locked on 10 points apiece, this one is certain to be a cracker. Both sides will be desperate for the win, not only to keep their ever-so-slight title chances alive at this crucial stage of the competition, but more importantly because the coveted second spot on the IRB rankings is up for grabs. The Springboks head into Saturday’s showdown with the added pressure of knowing that a simple victory over their Australian adversaries may very well not be enough to prevent them slipping down into third, but their inspirational performance against the All Blacks in Wellington two weeks back will certainly have boosted their confidence going into this match. The Wallabies may have drawn first blood with that controversial 24-23 win in Perth when the two met back in Round 3, but it is going to take a lot more than just poor officiating and a misjudged kick for touch for them to end their 22-year Newlands drought against a rejuvenated Springbok side.

Rugby Championship 2014: New Zealand vs South Africa Preview

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New Zealand vs South Africa | Saturday 13 September | Westpac Stadium | 09:35

The most important clash of the international rugby calendar outside of a World Cup year takes place in Wellington this Saturday. The planet’s top two meet for their first battle of the season, and if last year’s closing clash at Ellis Park is any indication of what to expect from these two titans of rugby union, then we’re in for an exhilarating encounter. The All Blacks are yet to taste defeat in the Rugby Championship but they came dangerously close in their opening game this year against a volatile Wallaby side in Sydney, ending in a tryless 12-12 draw. It would seem that that was the last time Steve Hansen’s men planned on getting caught unaware this season, as they bounced back a week later to record a resounding 51-20 victory over their Bledisloe Cup adversaries. They followed that up with a respectable 28-9 win over Los Pumas in Napier with a performance that showcased their pack’s prowess in foul weather conditions, which will be quite reassuring for the locals with rain predicted for Saturday’s clash.

Rugby Championship 2014: Argentina vs South Africa Preview

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Argentina vs South Africa | Saturday 23 August | Padre Ernesto Martearena Stadium | 21:40 

The Springboks had a far tougher time than expected in their opening round clash with Los Pumas last week, claiming a narrow 13-6 victory in the monsoon-like conditions of the South African capital. Ruan Pienaar managed the only try of the match as the shrewd visitors used the weather conditions perfectly to their advantage, at the same time managing to highlight several areas of concern in the Springbok set pieces by upstaging them in the scrum, pinching a fair few of their lineouts, and taking the bite right out of their once revered rolling maul. This week the Boks head for the picturesque city of Salta, hopeful that the warmer conditions will allow for a more expansive free-flowing game more suited to their young, exciting backline.

Rugby Championship 2014: South Africa vs Argentina Preview

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South Africa vs Argentina | Saturday 16 August | Loftus Versfeld | 17:00

The Springboks take on tournament underdogs Los Pumas in Pretoria this Saturday in the opening round of the Rugby Championship, and with four of their five Super Rugby representatives having self-destructed in heinous fashion earlier this year, the Springboks will be aiming for something of a repeat of last season’s sixty point Highveld obliteration delivered to their Spanish-speaking counterparts in order to conclusively disperse any untimely rumours about the current health of South African rugby. But with Argentina heading into this clash far fresher and better prepared than their ill-intentioned hosts, things are bound to be far more competitive this time around.

South Africa vs Scotland Test Preview

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South Africa vs Scotland | Saturday 28 June | Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium | 17:00

The Springboks wrap up their June Test series in Port Elizabeth this week with a once-off clash against an ever improving Scottish outfit. Vern Cotter is the ill-fated fellow that landed the daunting task of cleaning up the gruesome train-wreck left by Aussie foghorn Scott Johnson, and he’s fared relatively well so far with victories over the USA, Canada and Los Pumas in his first month at the helm. But this weekend’s colossal clash against the formidable South Africans will give Cotter a far better idea of just how far the Dark Blues have actually come since that humiliating 51-3 battering at the hands of the Welsh in Johnson’s final failure as coach, and just how much work needs to be done before next year’s World Cup.

South Africa vs Wales 2nd Test Preview

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South Africa vs Wales | Saturday 21 June | Nelspruit | 15:00

The Springboks made light work of the Red Dragons in the first of the two-Test series between the nations, handing out a five-try backhand in Durban last week to secure a healthy 22-point victory. The hosts were ruthless in their first half blitzkrieg, led by firecracker fullback Willie le Roux who put pacemaker Bryan Habana through for two tries before deciding to pick one up for himself. The sides broke for oranges with the scoreboard painting a bleak picture for the tourists, trailing 28-9. Things tamed down considerably in the second half, but debutant Cornal Hendricks crashed over the whitewash to crush any remaining hope of a fight back. The Welsh eventually managed to snatch a consolation try through an incredible solo effort from Cardiff Blues speedster Alex Cuthbert. The action moves to the considerably less picturesque city of Nelspruit, as Warren Gatland’s beleaguered Welsh battalion attempts to end their poor run of fifteen consecutive defeats to the Springboks by levelling the series before returning home.

IRB Junior World Championship 2014 Final Preview

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England vs South Africa | Friday 20 June | Eden Park | 09:35

The seventh IRB Junior World Championship wraps up in Auckland this Friday as defending champions England take on an impressive Baby Bok side in this year’s title decider. England’s young talent left little to chance in their semi-final encounter against neighbouring northerners Ireland, crashing over the whitewash a phenomenal four times in an enthralling first half that had the game all but wrapped up at the break. A far more passionate Ireland returned from the interval, their gallant performance in the final 40 minutes had them outscore the Poms two tries to one, but ultimately did little to negate the crippling 31-point deficit incurred in the first half.

South Africa vs Wales 1st Test Preview

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South Africa vs Wales | Saturday 14 June | Kings Park | 17:05

The Springboks finally kick of their 2014 Test season with the opening clash of a two-match series against the Red Dragons, taking place down in Durban this Saturday. Heyneke Meyer’s charges got off to a worryingly slow start last week against Nick Mallett’s World XV, with the ill-prepared visitors getting the better of the Bok scrum for much of the first half, leaving the Springboks with a feeble 18-13 lead at the break. The Boks managed to turn the tide in the second half thanks to a near impermeable defence and their setting up of a few effective mauls from the lineouts, ultimately outscoring their star-studded opponents six tries to one by the time the final siren sounded.

South Africa vs World XV Preview

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South Africa v World XV | Saturday 07 June | Newlands | 17:00

The Springboks head to Cape Town this week to take on a star-studded World XV in their first clash of the 2014 season. Saturday’s “international friendly” presents Heyneke Meyer with a perfect opportunity to test out a few theories before the arrival of Wales and Scotland for the June Test series. But World XV coach Nick Mallett is not a man that enjoys losing, even if the stakes are non-existent. The World XV team boasts an impressive 621 international caps, with players from nine different countries, but I think it is safe to say their most lethal weapon is Mallett himself. Having coached the Springboks for three years, during which period he guided them to a record seventeen consecutive Test wins, Mallett knows South African rugby intimately. And being the man that introduced Meyer to international coaching by making him the Springbok forwards coach back in 1999, he’s likely to have a fair idea of his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. This could turn out to be the Springbok’s toughest fixture of the June Test window.

France vs South Africa Preview

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France v South Africa | Saturday 23 November | Stade de France | 22:00

The Springboks look set to finish up their annual European pilgrimage on a high again this year, with the only team remaining in their way of a clean sweep of their Northern brethren being a feeble French side. France pulled off only their second win of a pitiful 2013 with a 38-18 victory over Tonga in Le Havre last week, their first taste of success since March. Their clash with the physical Polynesians turned out to be more of a King-of-the-Ring contest than an IRB sanctioned Test match, with a series of violent on-field scuffles marring the encounter. With the Springboks labelled the professional thugs of the rugby world thanks to the fiery nature of the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Bakkies Botha and Bismarck du Plessis to name but a few, this Saturday’s game has the potential to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The Springboks and Les Bleus are both known for their passionate performances, so in all probability the side who emerges victorious this Saturday will be the one that manages to remain composed for the full 80 minutes.

Scotland vs South Africa Preview

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Scotland vs South Africa | Sunday 17 November | Murrayfield, Edinburgh | 17:00

Having secured a hard-fought victory over a resolute Welsh side last weekend, the Springboks now march North for Murrayfield to face a courageous Scotland for the second time this year. The two sides clashed heads back in June during the Castle Lager Incoming Series, where Scotland’s gutsy performance had the Boks on the back foot for most of the first half and trailing 6-10 at the break. The South Africans managed to pull things around in the second half, finishing thirteen points ahead of the visitors, but their victory was somewhat tainted by a few questionable decisions by referee Romain Poite, who the South African fans will remember for the erroneous yellow card on Bismarck du Plessis during the Rugby Championship.

Wales vs South Africa Preview

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Wales vs South Africa | Saturday 09 November | Millennium Stadium | 19:30

The Springboks kick off their end-of-year tour this weekend when they take on Six Nations champions Wales at Millennium Stadium. The Welsh have not fared too well against their South African counterparts over the years, managing only one solitary victory from the 26 matches between the countries, that win coming some fourteen years ago at the opening of the Millennium Stadium. With the Springboks looking to convincingly bounce back from their regrettable loss to the All Blacks in Johannesburg last month, it looks unlikely that the Welsh are going to be doubling their victories over the two-time World Cup winning opponents this week.

Rugby Championship: South Africa vs New Zealand Preview

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South Africa vs New Zealand | Saturday 05 October | Ellis Park | 17:00

Ellis Park hosts the deciding encounter of this year’s hotly contested Rugby Championship, a far cry from the one horse race of last year’s competition that saw the All Blacks finish fourteen points clear on top of the log. The Springboks trail by five points going into this weekend’s colossal match-up against their rugby union arch-rivals, which means thwarting a successful All Black title defence is going to be no mean feat for the South Africans. Jean de Villiers and his charges not only need to secure victory by crossing the chalked line four times or more to ensure the coveted bonus point, but in addition will need to prevent the World Champions from earning a bonus point of their own.