2023 is a massive year for rugby. Once every four years we get to celebrate a Rugby World Cup and the build up to it is usually met with just as much excitement as the tournament itself. It is a particularly important one for the Springboks as they look to defend their World Cup title in France, with the tournament set to kick off on 8 September and their campaign beginning a mere two days later. Can they get the job done and do what the All Blacks did in 2015, by retaining the Web Ellis Cup?
The World Cup year always jumbles up the rugby calendar a little as the Rugby Championship is reduced to a single round format, whilst one off warm up games against certain nations are seen as crucial to preparing the squad to do battle. This year is not different and the Boks will be opening their international season with fixtures against traditional foes, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina in the Rugby Championship. Here they will face their first three scheduled games of the year. The Boks are set to host both Los Pumas and the Wallabies, whilst their fixture against the All Blacks will be played away from home this year.
The Rugby Championship is set to run from the 08th to the 29th of July with games taking place every weekend except the 22nd which will be used for travel purposes. The reduced format will make wins even more crucial in the tournament should the Boks be looking to secure some silverware heading into the World Cup. Dropping but a single game could scupper those aspirations.
After the Rugby Championship has concluded, the Boks have scheduled a further 3 fixtures at this stage in order to prepare the side. They will first travel to Argentina to play Los Pumas in Buenos Aires in early August. They will then have a week off before facing off with Wales in Cardiff and then a huge test against the All Blacks which will take place at Twickenham Stadium in London.
The clash against the All Blacks is significant in that both sides are set to face off with two major powers in the pool stages. The All Blacks will face France in the World Cup opener, whilst the Boks are set to face Ireland in round 3. This test will help both sides sharpen themselves up only 14 days out from the start of the tournament. It will also be interesting to see whether the Boks will remain in the UK/Europe after this test or return home before the World Cup.
The remaining four fixtures the Boks are guaranteed this year will be against Scotland, Romania, Ireland and Tonga as part of their group stage fixtures at the World Cup. After that, nothing will be guaranteed, however the men in Green & Gold will be hoping to add a further 3 games as they look to qualify for the quarter's, semi's and final in France.
So guys and girls, get out those diaries, pencil these dates in early as the 2023 international season is not one to be missed.
08 July - Springboks v Wallabies (Loftus)
17 July - Springboks v All Blacks (TBC)
29 July - Springboks v Los Pumas (Ellis Park)
05 August - Springboks v Los Pumas (Buenos Aires)
19 August - Springboks v Wales (Cardiff)
25 August - Springboks v All Blacks (Twickenham)
Rugby World Cup
10 September - Springboks v Scotland
17 September - Springboks v Romania
23 September - Springboks v Ireland
01 October - Springboks v Tonga