Rugby-Springboks confirm end of year test schedule

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - World champions South Africa have confirmed tests against Ireland, France, Italy and England later this year on a month-long northern hemisphere tour, when they also plan to include midweek matches.

The Springboks will play Ireland in Dublin on Nov. 5, France in Marseille on Nov.12, Italy on Nov. 19 at a venue still to be finalised and England at Twickenham one week later, SA Rugby said on Tuesday.

They have also fixed a match for a South African Select XV against the Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate on Nov. 17 and are attempting to organise two more games for the midweek selection.

“The SA Select XV games will provide us with a chance to cast our net wider and look to build squad depth and give players as much game time as possible as the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France draws nearer,” said coach Jacques Nienaber in a statement.

“We only have a limited number of matches left before we kick off our Rugby World Cup campaign in September next year, and we need to use every opportunity we can to develop our player combinations and build squad depth.

“We have constantly alluded to ensuring that we can take a squad to the World Cup with a reasonable amount of test caps, and although the planned mid-week games are not tests, it will be vital in keeping the players in tune with our structures and systems and giving them the chance to tour with us and play overseas. That is the only way one can build that type of experience,” he added.

South Africa have an expansive 42-man squad for this month's three-test home series against Wales and will likely take a similar number of players into their Rugby Championship assignments against New Zealand, Australia and Argentina in August and September.

Together with the four end-of-year internationals, the Springboks will play a total of 13 tests this year. They narrowly defeated Wales 32-29 in their test in Pretoria last Saturday.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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