The Springboks wrap up their tour of the British Isles this afternoon against a team of mostly Southern Hemisphere Barbarians, with absolutely no pressure of Grand Slams or coaching staff on the brink of getting the boot, and as a result one would expect a great game of rugby.
The reality of the match is that these guys have all, bar 2 Northern hemisphere blokes who managed to get out of their club commitments, have played each other time and again, either during the Super 14 or during the Tri Nations, and most of the players will be looking forward to the trip home to take a form of break.
The excitement of a young flyhalf for the South Africans was by and large extinguished on Wednesday when Elton Jantjies was named as the flyhalf, with the incumbent and much anticipated Pat Lambie filling the 15 jersey. My opinion on this does not really matter, but a feeling of getting behind the team on this should trump all others. There will either be a few ‘I told you so’ or ‘apologies’ come 19h00 tonight.
The Barbarians celebrate their 120th year of existence and play the Springboks for the 7th time and the main aim for them is go out and have some fun, even though the concept has taken a back seat in the professional era. One would have loved to see a mixed bag of players, but as a result of clubs and other tournaments on the go, this will probably never be a reality.
My prediction for this game is that, weather permitting, the Barbarians will run at the Bok backline with everything they have, and will make for some wonderful entertainment. We can only hope the Boks can match them in all areas.
Barbarians: 15 James O’Connor, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau (captain), 9 Will Genia, 8 Colin Bourke, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Rodney So’oialo, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Anton van Zyl, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 John Yapp, 18 Quintin Geldenhuys, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Seru Rabini.
South Africa: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Adi Jacobs, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 François Hougaard, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Juan Smith (captain), 6 Willem Alberts, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Gio Aplon.
Date: Saturday, 4 December
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT; 16.30 SA time)
Venue: Twickenham, London
Expected weather: There is a 20 percent chance of snow, a high of 5°C (windchill: -3°C), dropping to-2°C, and a southwester of 14 km/h
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos (France), Peter Allan (Scotland)