With the Six Nations done and dusted and the attention shifting back to the weekly games of club rugby, We’re going to have a very early look at the next major internationals, being the June tests. They carry extra significance this year, as it is the penultimate time the northern hemisphere clashes with the southern hemisphere before the 2015 World cup, with the November internationals being the last.
So without further ado, let’s have a look:
South Africa – Wales
If you’re a fan of big hits and ferocious tackles, you don’t want to miss this. Set to be the most physical series of this summer, the tussle between the Springboks and the Welsh will be a sight to behold. The Springboks are back together after a season of resurgence and will look to build on last season, with the highlight being the Ellis Park epic against New Zealand in the Rugby Championship. Wales, however, have had a less than satisfactory Six Nations and will be looking to alter their game plan which was ineffective against Ireland and England.
History is not on the side of the Welsh, as their first and only win against the African heavyweights happened in 1999. There have been a couple of close calls in the last couple of years, most notably their group stage game in the 2011 world cup ending with a 17- 16 scoreline in favour of the Springboks.
Wales had a mixed Six Nations to say the least. They were dominated by the Irish and soundly beaten by the English, but they also thumped Scotland and France and won against the Italians. Warrenball seems to have lost its effectiveness agains the Northern hemisphere however, and it never worked against the Southern hemisphere anyway. With both Sam Warburton and Leigh Halfpenny out of the tour through injury, and the gameplan getting a thorough examination, this will supposedly be an unfamiliar Welsh side.
Meyer’s Springboks are really coming into their own. Winning all games last season bar their 2 games against the All Blacks, they will be oozing confidence and will be looking to close the gap with the number 1. Their team is balanced, but the half-backs are a cause of concern. Fourie Du Preez is currently 31 years old, and Morne Steyn is past his 2009 form. I’d expect Meyer to bring in Marnitz Boshoff on fly-half, who has been a revelation for the lions so far this season, being arguably the form fly-half of the super rugby season so far. Meyer’s tendency to recall veterans these days (Bakkies Botha and Fourie Du Preez for example) is worrying however.
Games are won by forwards, the backs decide by how much. This old adage could not be more fitting for these 2 games. Wales will have to be able to achieve at least parity in the scrum and around the breakdown to be able to keep up with the Bokke. The loss of Warburton will be huge, as there are few as good as him at pilfering the ball and the South Africans will be looking to target this area. If Willie Le Roux is played on the wing, we will have a classic battle on our hands between him and George North.
South Africa to win the series 2-0.