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Preview: South Africa v Wales {02-06-18}

Rassie Erasmus’ reign as Springbok coach gets underway when they take on Warren Gatland’s Wales in Washington DC in the first June international of 2018.

The one-off Test at the Robert F Kennedy Stadium will be an historic occasion as it will be the first rugby international held at the venue which used to be home to American Football outfit the Washington Redskins and, until 2017, Major League Soccer club DC United.

There will be plenty of pressure on Erasmus who will be hoping to hit the ground running ahead of the Springboks’ upcoming three-Test series against England in South Africa.

He has picked a very young and inexperienced team and although Wales head coach Gatland has also opted to rest most of his first-choice players, his matchday squad has a more experienced look to it.

With a combined total of just 134 Test caps in the Boks’ run-on side, and seven players making their Test debuts, Erasmus has gambled against a Wales team who although also under-strengthed, have 247 combined Test caps in their ranks.

However, Wales are in a similar position to the Boks as they have rested 10 of their 12 players who were part of last year’s British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand for this encounter and next month’s two Tests in Argentina.

After an injury-plagued 2017, back-row Ross Moriarty played in three Tests for Wales during their Six Nations campaign, but then found game time hard to come by on his return to Gloucester.

But now he is itching to play for his country again.

“I am really pleased to be able to come on the Wales tour,” said Moriarty.

“Gloucester released me early so I could make it.

“I’m looking forward to playing some rugby again and it’s been great to be involved in training with Wales.

“The sun has been shining, it’s been nice and warm, and I’ve really been looking forward to Washington and going to Argentina for the first time.”

Apart from it being Erasmus’ first game in charge of the Boks, this fixture will only be the second time that South Africa will face Wales on neutral ground outside of a Rugby World Cup.

Previously, the two rivals played at Wembley Stadium in London during the construction of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. On that occasion, on 14 November 1998, Gary Teichmann’s Springbok side won 28-20.

Despite that defeat, Wales have held the upper hand in this fixture in recent times as they have won the last two matches between these countries in Cardiff.

2017: Wales won 24-22 in Cardiff
2016: Wales won 27-13 in Cardiff
2015: South Africa won 23-19 in London (RWC)
2014: Wales won 12-06 in Cardiff
2014: South Africa won 31-30 in Nelspruit
2014: South Africa won 38-14 in Durban
2013: South Africa won 24-15 in Cardiff
2011: South Africa won 17-16 in Wellington (RWC)
2010: South Africa won 29-25 in Cardiff
2010: South Africa won 34-31 in Cardiff

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit (c), 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Warrick Gelant

Wales: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 George North, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 6 Seb Davies, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Rhys Patchell/Gareth Davies, 23 Hadleigh Parkes

Date: Saturday, June 2
Venue: Robert F Kennedy Stadium, Washington DC
Kick-off: 17:00 local (22:00 BST, 21:00 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Alexandre Ruiz (France), Frank Murphy (Ireland)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)



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