Monday, November 2, 2009

South Africa: autumn internationals form guide

For South Africa, 2009 has been another hugely successful year. Can the world champion Springboks cap it off with a clean sweep in Europe during the November Tests?

South Africaholds its breath every time Peter de Villiers opens his mouth, such is the unpredictability of their maverick coach. But results speak louder than (ill-advised) words, and he has kept the Springbok machine on track since taking over after their 2007 World Cup win. <br>

 Key men:

The Bokke uncovered a ready-made international fly-half in Morne Steyn this summer, and despite his relative inexperience at Test level, the Blue Bulls star has been nerveless with the boot and made the right decisions for his side.

Elsewhere South Africa have two modern-day legends in the pack in skipper John Smit and Victor Matfield. These two men hold the key to their dominant line-out, which in turn holds the key to their entire game.

Target area:

Where to start? It's hard to find holes in this set-up but the only team who have got close in recent months were the British and Irish Lions. They did this by playing positive rugby with the ball in hand and going hell for leather in the process. South Africa look weak whenever a side moves the game away from the Boks' favoured territorial kicking game.


World champions, Tri-Nations champions, Sevens champions, they beat the Lions with a Test to spare and the Blue Bulls are Super 14 champions. It's safe to say that this lot are on form.

Likely XV:

Mtawarira, Du Plessis, Smit, Botha, Matfield, Brussow, Burger, Spies, Du Preez, Steyn, Habana, Olivier, Fourie, Pietersen, Pienaar


Nov 6 v Leicester Tigers, Welford Road, Sky Sports 2

Nov 13 v France, Stade Municipal Toulouse, ESPN

Nov 17 v Saracens, Wembley, Sky Sports 2

Nov 21 v Italy, Stadio Friuli Udinese

Nov 28 v Ireland, Croke Park, BBC1


South Africa are sure to bring the best out of all their opponents, and with a large number of Rainbow Nation ex-pats now living in Britain they can expect wholehearted support wherever they go. France and Ireland represent the hardest Tests but it would be foolish to bet against anything other than an unbeaten tour.

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