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South Africa v Wales Preview And Prediction

The Springboks kick off their 2024 season with a tricky tie against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday (15:00 SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.


The Springboks kick off their 2024 season with a tricky tie against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday (15:00 SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The back-to-back world champions are back in action for the first time since their thrilling 12-11 triumph over arch-rivals the All Blacks in last year’s World Cup final in France and start the new four-year cycle with a vastly different team. For the first match that is.

With a lengthy injury list, the Test falling outside of the international window and the Bulls playing the Glasgow Warriors in the United Rugby Championship grand final on the same day, several stars were unavailable for selection. As a result, Rassie Erasmus has named a new-look side featuring four uncapped players.

The side, set to be captained by Pieter-Steph du Toit, is plenty talented and Erasmus has done his best to ensure there are some experienced heads to guide the newcomers. On paper, it’s a team that should see off Wales, despite the Dragons set to be more settled with Warren Gatland having more players available to him.

Yes, they’re in a rebuilding phase, but they’ve had a Six Nations campaign to start laying the foundation. Despite being full of promise and passion, results didn’t materialise for them in the Northern Hemisphere showpiece, and they endured their first winless campaign since 2003.

They pushed both Scotland and England close, losing 27-26 and 16-14 respectively, but their Championship ended on the worst possible note – a 24-21 home defeat to Italy, which condemned them to the wooden spoon. Generally, they converted scoring opportunities into points quite well but undid that with soft moments on defence.

Worryingly for them, they had scrum issues throughout, and the Springboks are sure to target them in this set piece. The biggest drawback for the Dragons in the Six Nations was the fact that they consistently came off second-best in the contact areas. Again, that lack of power and mongrel is a major concern for them against the South Africans, who are renowned for their physicality.

Facing the Webb Ellis Cup holders and No. 1-ranked team in the world is all the motivation Wales need to lift their game and they can draw inspiration from the triumphant 1974 British & Irish Lions as Saturday’s showdown will be 50 years to the day since the Lions took a 2-0 lead in their four-Test series against the Springboks with a 28-9 win in Pretoria.

It’s a piece of history that’s not lost on Gatland, who as the man who was in charge of the Lions during the drama-filled last tour to South Africa in 2021 has a score to settle with Erasmus.

From a Springbok perspective, there will be plenty of fiery passion from the new and familiar faces alike. The game will also give us a first glimpse of the men in green and gold under new attack coach Tony Brown – the former All Black flyhalf who served as an assistant coach for Japan from 2016 to the 2023 World Cup and was also the Highlanders’ head coach in 2017, 2021 and 2022 – and defence coach Jerry Flannery, the former Ireland hooker and Harlequins assistant coach.

Gelling as a team will be the new-look Boks’ biggest challenge, but their physical superiority and traditionally strong set pieces, with a bit of magic from the exciting backline sprinkled on top, should see them slay the Dragons. 

Prediction: South Africa by 9.

Suggested Bet: Wales +18.5 at 1.81.

Value Bet: South Africa by 1-12 at 2.25.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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