Springbok coach Peter de Villiers must use 2010 to “test combinations”, a way of rotating players, to help avoid player burnout ahead of the World Cup in New Zealand next year.
Rugby 365 reports that this proposal comes from South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins, who on Tuesday confirmed earlier media reports that the Boks will feature in an additional Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on June 5.
Labelling the game a “rematch of the first game ever played at the Millennium Stadium” – when the two teams met in Cardiff 10 years ago – SARU glossed over the fact that the game will bring to 15 the number of internationals South Africa will feature in this year.
Media reports earlier suggested that SARU is ‘killing the Goose that lays the golden egg’.
With the Test against Wales now confirmed, it means the Boks will play seven Test matches in sevens weeks (eight Saturdays) in June and July.
Those seven Tests in June and July are two against New Zealand and one against Australia, one against the top Six Nations team France and two against Italy. Plus the one against Wales, of course.
The Springboks play Wales in Cardiff on June 5 and France in Cape Town the following Saturday.
What’s more, the Wales Test comes only a week after the Super 14 final.
And there are another three Tests – one against New Zealand and two against Australia – in August and September.
They complete the years with a five-match tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland in November and December.
Hoskins admitted that ‘player management’ this year will be an issue, but suggested that the best available team should not always play.
“Obviously we are aware acutely aware of the player management issues that this [additional] Test [against Wales] presents, but I am sure that the Springbok selectors will look at this as an opportunity to Test combinations,” Hoskins said.
The match is a repeat of the June 1999 match – which was played to formally open the Millennium Stadium, when Wales recorded their only victory over South Africa (29-19) in 23 meetings between the nations since 1906.
“As we opened the stadium 10 seasons ago, it was only appropriate that the Springboks should be the nation to mark the anniversary,” Hoskins said.
“Wales were very keen that we should share this day with them and although it is a break with the traditional shape of our domestic season I am sure it will be a momentous occasion – the kind of event that Test rugby is all about.”
The Test is the first of a run of four on successive Saturdays for the Springboks.
They face France in Cape Town a week later, before Tests against Italy.
The Group Chief Executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, Roger Lewis, and WRU Chairman, David Pickering, made a whistlestop visit to Cape Town last month to close the agreement for the special game.
“I am delighted the Springboks have agreed to come to Wales in June to celebrate ten great seasons of rugby at the Millennium Stadium,” Lewis said.
“It shows how much respect the South Africans have for Wales in that they are prepared to break new ground in agreeing to this fixture.
“This will undoubtedly be the showcase rugby occasion of the summer in the northern hemisphere and is a great coup for Wales.”
Hoskins added: “Our rugby nations share a deep passion for the game, matched by few countries. We have a long and rich history of meetings and June’s Test will add another chapter to that story.”
The Springboks’ international programme for 2010:
June 5: v Wales (Cardiff)
June 12: France (Cape Town)
June 19: v Italy (Witbank)
June 26: v Italy (East London)
July 10: v New Zealand (Auckland)
July 17: v New Zealand (Wellington)
July 24: v Australia (Brisbane)
August 21: v New Zealand (Johannesburg)
August 28: v Australia (Pretoria)
September 4: v Australia (Bloemfontein)
November 6: v Ireland (Dublin)
November 13: v Wales (Cardiff)
November 20: v Scotland (Edinburgh)
November 27: v England (London)
December 4: v British Barbarians (London)