Tricky trip for tiring Boks
Cape Town – Perhaps the best ally the Springboks have for their traditional, end-of-year trip to the northern hemisphere is its relatively short duration in 2012.
While the All Blacks and Wallabies will tackle four of the traditional main European rugby powers each, South Africa’s roster is a shorter, three-week one encompassing only Tests against Ireland (Dublin, November 10), Scotland (Edinburgh, November 17) and England (London, November 24).
It gives them a better chance of a clean sweep, even if this falls well short of a Grand Slam tour.
That incentive only enters the picture when the relevant country from the SANZAR alliance tackles all four of the Home Unions (the afore-mentioned three teams plus Wales).
None of the southern superpowers tackle that challenge in 2012, as the New Zealanders will skip Ireland (they do play Italy instead) and the Aussies also give Dublin and Edinburgh a wide berth but go head to head with France and Italy.
The Boks did not tour Europe in 2011 because it was a World Cup year, but on the last venture, under Victor Matfield’s leadership in 2010, managed to see off all of Ireland, Wales and England but their “Slam” hopes were dashed by an upset 21-17 reverse to Scotland in a Murrayfield quagmire.
Not playing Wales this time is useful, as they are the defending Six Nations champions, but South Africa are potentially vulnerable to all northern foes at this time of the season because of fatigue and an inevitably lengthy list of injured absentees.
Known non-tourers on this occasion will include such household names as Bismarck du Plessis, Schalk Burger, Pierre Spies, Frans Steyn and Andries Bekker.
TV coverage: M-Net, SuperSport 1 and SHD
Source: Rob Howing, Sport24