It's official - England are 'touring'
England will play midweek tour matches in Kimberley and Potchefstroom during their three-test series against the Springboks in June, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) confirmed on Monday.
The series is a return to 'traditional-style' touring which will see an England midweek team play matches on the platteland as well as tests in Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
England will meet a SA Barbarians South team in an afternoon match in Kimberley on Wednesday, June 13 and six days later play a SA Barbarians North team in an evening kick off in Potchefstroom.
“I think all rugby fans will be excited by the idea of having England on tour in South Africa for five matches over three weeks,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of Saru.
“South Africa has not hosted a three-test tour against a single nation since the visit of New Zealand in 1996, so this will be a special occasion for all of us. The Rugby Football Union has also agreed to two midweek matches, which gives us the opportunity to take international rugby away from the major metropolitan centres.
“It also presents a chance for players outside of the Springbok and Vodacom Super Rugby camps to demonstrate their ability against top-flight international opposition.”
Roux said that the teams would be selected from the players of the eight Absa Currie Cup First Division teams. The coaches will be appointed in due course.
The England series takes place during a Vodacom Super Rugby shutdown across the Southern Hemisphere. New Zealand host Ireland in three tests and Wales are on tour in Australia at the same time.
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “This will be a massive and exciting challenge for us. England have never had a three-test series in South Africa and, with two midweek games against opponents who will be desperate to impress, these five games gives us a great opportunity for a wider group of players to put their hat in the ring and gain international experience.
“We were pleased with the progress we made in the RBS 6 Nations and this tour is another important step on the journey towards 2015.”
England arrive in South Africa on May 31. The full fixture schedule is:
Saturday, 9 June: South Africa v England (1st test), Mr Price King’s Park, Durban (kick off 17h00)
Wednesday, 13 June: SA Barbarians South v England, GWK Park, Kimberley (kick off 14h30)
Saturday, 16 June: South Africa v England (2nd test), Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg (kick off 17h00)
Tuesday, 19 June: SA Barbarians North v England, Profert Olen Park, Potchefstroom (kick off 19h10)
- Saturday, 23 June: South Africa v England (3rd test), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth (kick off 17h00)