Springboks World Cup

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi celebrates with team mates after their victory during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on 2 November 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Test rugby returns: Springboks to play Georgia in two British & Irish Lions warm-ups

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced that Test Rugby will return to South African shores, with the Springboks hosting Georgia in two warm-up matches ahead of the British & Irish Lions Tour.

Springboks World Cup

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi celebrates with team mates after their victory during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on 2 November 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced that Test Rugby will return to South African shores with the Springboks hosting Georgia in two warm-up matches ahead of the British & Irish Lions Tour.

The announcement made on Monday would’ve undoubtedly gone down well with the majority of the country’s rugby fraternity who didn’t get the chance to watch their beloved Springboks all of 2020. These two Test games will serve as the first opportunity to see the Springboks for the first time since that iconic third Rugby World Cup triumph in Japan in late 2019.

It will be the first time the Springboks play since the RWC final

Arguably, for the supporters, most importantly it will present them with a first viewing of what the Springbok side will look like, under new coach Jacques Nienaber. With the widely accepted assumption that Nienaber will just be continuing from Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus’ initial remit, it will be interesting to see just how similar the squad he selects for the British & Irish Lions differs from the one that brought home the Webb Ellis Trophy.

While many pessimists may question the strength of the chosen opponents, most significantly, however, these two fixtures will offer the Nienaber and his boy some welcome game time together as a group again and prevents the fears that Springboks will enter the British & Irish Lions series undercooked.

Rassie Erasmus looks forward to the two Tests before the British & Irish Lions series

Erasmus concurred with the above, giving these two Test matches his stamp of approval.

“Nothing beats a full-blooded international to test your skill set, readiness and ability under pressure, and we are delighted to have this opportunity before the Lions series,” he said. He then continued by saying “Jacques (Nienaber), his coaching staff and management have been working around the clock to get the team as well prepared as possible, and the Georgia series is a much-needed opportunity after such a long and unforeseen interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic”

Jacques Nienaber says things have become serious after the British & Irish Lions announcement

The new Springbok mentor himself, weighed in on the announcement, “The confirmation of the Georgian Tests, and the announcement of the British & Irish Lions squad last week has caused a lot of excitement and I am sure it will lift the spirit of the players – we can now accelerate our preparations for our return to Test rugby,” he said

A Georgian perspective ahead of their first tour to the Springboks

Lasha Khurtsidze, the Georgian vice-president for High Performance and Development described the prospects of playing the world champions as a “great honour”

“Playing against them is a great honour for us. We appreciate the fact that we have a friendly and close relations with SA Rugby. Our Under-20s have been invited to South Africa on numerous occasions to play in very high-level tournaments over there. As a leading tier-one rugby nation, this makes South Africa an important contributor to the development of Georgian rugby.” He said

The fixtures are scheduled to take place on the weekends of 2/3 July as well as the following week of 9/10 July.

They will also mark the first time the Eastern European side has toured South Africa.