HomeWorldSouth Africa v Ireland: All you need to know

South Africa v Ireland: All you need to know


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Ireland’s Tour of South Africa – First Test

Saturday, 6 July

South Africa v Ireland, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, 4pm


Listen to live commentary on Saturday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1


Follow a live blog on rte.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app

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Mischief-making and an ambush in store?

Who could forget the last meeting between Ireland and the Springboks? It ultimately didn’t lead to a launchpad towards greater things from an Irish point of view but 23 September 2023 was an arm-wrestle for the ages at the last World Cup.

Ireland won out 13-8 and as the nations meet again in the first test of the tour series on South African soil, the intensity won’t have dimmed at all and it’ll be a case of whether Andy Farrell’s side can meet fire with fire.

As Bernard Jackman outlined on the RTÉ Rugby Podcast, Saturday’s reunion in Pretoria is “absolutely massive” for the Springboks for a number of reasons and that Ireland could be “running into an ambush, which could turn nasty if we’re not careful”.

There’s been plenty said off the pitch before, during after last autumn’s Paris battle by some of the main actors on the stage – Rassie Erasmus (mis)chief among them – which could contribute to a degree of needle between both teams, although Farrell recognises his counterpart’s outbursts for the mind games that they are and has consequently laughed them off.

When South Africa won the World Cup there was an Irish presence on Erasmus’ coaching ticket in the shape of Felix Jones and this time round, Jerry Flannery is on board.

“He’ll love the opportunity to work with the Springboks and to work with Rassie again,” Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell said of his former Munster and international team-mate’s role with this month’s opposition.

“He’s a brilliant guy and it comes through in his coaching and he’ll be a brilliant addition to South Africa.”

Captain Peter O’Mahony and out-half Jack Crowley plotting their plans for the first test


Farrell named his Ireland side on Thursday and much of the focus was on the identity of the player who would fill in for Olympics-bound Hugo Keenan at full-back.

That responsibility has fallen onto the shoulders of his Leinster team-mate Jamie Osborne, who’s largely played at centre during his senior career but gets the nod over Jimmy O’Brien.

Meanwhile in the absence of Jamison Gibson-Park, the half-back partnership is an all-Munster zone with Craig Casey starting alongside Jack Crowley.

A couple of days earlier, Erasmus showed his hand, naming a strong Springboks side comprising the core of the squad which won back-to-back World Cups, with four changes from the pulsating pool game against Ireland earlier in the 2023 competition.

Handre Pollard starts at 10 for the South Africans, while Cheslin Kolbe has recovered from a knee injury to feature on the wing.

Ireland: Jamie Osborne; Calvin Nash, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Joe McCarthy, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, James Ryan, Ryan Baird, Conor Murray, Ciarán Frawley, Garry Ringrose.

South Africa: Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Kurt-Lee Arendse; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe; Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert; Siya Kolisi (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Gerhard Steenekamp, Vincent Koch, Salmaan Moerat, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Grant Williams, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu

Listen to live commentary of South Africa v Ireland (4pm) on Saturday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1, and follow a live blog on rte.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app.

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