South Africa will look for redemption when they take on England in the first of a three-match Test series, starting at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday, 9 June 2018, kick-off at 17h05 CAT.
The Springboks and coach Rassie Erasmus saw their ‘new dawn’ get off to an awful start last weekend when they were beaten 22-20 by Wales in a one-off Test played in Washington, USA. The second-string Boks put in an awful performance that was reminiscent of the worst seen under former coach Allister Coetzee.
The fact that Erasmus left all his strongest players at home in preparation for this series means he will just about be forgiven for the poor display against the Dragons, but only if the ‘A’ team dramatically steps up the level of performance for this series against England.
The Boks will be captained by Siya Kolisi – the first black skipper in the team’s history – and see the return of many of their premier players, including the likes of Tendai Mtawarira, Duane Vermeulen, Handre Pollard, Damien de Allende and Willie le Roux.
However, they will be without French-based players Bismarck du Plessis and Francois Steyn (who both arrived late for camp and have since been declared unavailable for the rest of the series due to unspecified knocks), while the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Warren Whitely and Lood de Jager area also out of the reckoning due to injury.
England comes into the clash listed third on the IRB rankings (compared to seventh for South Africa), with coach Eddie Jones looking to mastermind a series victory in South Africa to distract from a poor showing in the 2018 Six Nations. The Roses lost three of their five matches in the Northern Hemisphere tournament and finished second from bottom on the log.
England was also thrashed 63-45 in a warm-up match against the Barbarians at Twickenham last weekend, though they fielded an under-strength line-up and one should not read too much into the result.
The tourists have endured their fair share of injuries, with the likes of Ben Te’o, Jack Willis, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes all ruled out of the tour, but Jones still expects his side to compete strongly for a first-ever series win over the Boks.
South Africa and England have met 38 times in a rivalry which dates back to 1906. The Boks have claimed 23 wins compared to 13 for the British side, while two matches have been drawn. England won the last encounter between the teams, 37-21 in London in November 2016, though the Boks had put together a 12-match unbeaten streak in the rivalry prior to that defeat.
Head-to-head stats, SA v England
SA wins 23
England wins 13
SA points 801
England points 629