It will be the first time the Wales and the Boks will square off in a three-Test series in South Africa, with the encounters scheduled for the first three Saturdays in July in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town respectively.

Although the Welsh have not had a perfect start to their Six Nations campaign, losing to Ireland in Dublin before beating Scotland in Cardiff last weekend, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber knows they will prove to be a tough opponent in five months’ time.

Speaking to the SA Rugby Podcast, Nienaber said they have taken notice of Wales’ performances.

“If you look at their team that lost to Ireland, they were without a number of their best players, guys who played for the British & Irish Lions such as Wyn Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi, and Leigh Halfpenny, to name but a few,” said Nienaber.

“I think I counted 11 players who are out – that is a lot of big names with loads of experience who are missing due to injury, and at the same time, they are now blooding some new guys.

“Since I’ve been involved with the Boks, we lost to them twice in 2018, beat then with a penalty goal in the 76th min in the World Cup semi-final, and last year we only took the lead against them at the Principality Stadium very late in the match.

“That is how tough and tight it is against Wales. [The July series] will be a big battle, like it always is with Wales, and we feel there is nothing better than starting your season with three proper Test matches a year out from the next Rugby World Cup.”


In terms of planning for the season, which also includes two home Tests against the All Blacks in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in August, Nienaber said all is on track.

“We’ve got a tough schedule this year, which is what you want a year before the Rugby World Cup, facing some big opponents and basically playing all the top teams in the world,” said the Bok coach.

“Since the end of last year, we’ve done a recce to France to check out some possible bases for the Rugby World Cup, we’ve reviewed the 2021 season and now we getting ready for the current season, with some alignment camps planned for April.

“From our perspective it’s a blank canvas – we’re looking for players who are knocking the door down, and the guys who played last year know they have to perform to remain in the squad.”

Nienaber said his research shows the Boks are in a good position in terms of average age and experience with the RWC in mind.

“Some people might think we have an old squad, but on average our players are 27, 28 years old, and they will be 29 at the RWC. Previous teams that have won the World Cup had an average age of between 27 and 29.

“What people do see is that we have a lot of experience – last year, our squad had more than 1300 Test caps, and while we were very experienced, we were not necessarily old, so I think our sweet spot regarding experience vs age is perfect.”

Nienaber said the Bok squad for the Welsh series will probably be announced towards the end of May, before they start with a series of conditioning camps in June.