A buoyant South African squad kick off their European tour with a chance to underline their dominance against England, but Eddie Jones’ team are sure to offer stiff resistance on their home turf. Read our comprehensive prediction and preview to get the lowdown on this huge game.
England versus Springboks Preview and Prediction
Two of the oldest national teams in rugby history first played one another back in December 1906 and they have met 41 times in total since that initial game, which ended in a 3-3 draw. The Springboks have a significant lead in the series, by 25 to 14, with 2 draws, and they also have the edge in games played on English soil, winning 11 out of 21, with 1 drawn.
England were able to enjoy a period of dominance in the early years of this century, and beat the Springboks in seven consecutive games between June 2000 and November 2006, but the tables have been turned since then. South Africa have won 13 of the last 16, although their last visit to Twickenham ended in a 37-21 defeat.
Last Ten Meetings
2010: South Africa won 21-11 Twickenham, London
2012: South Africa won 22-17 Kings Park Stadium, Durban
2012: South Africa won 36-27 Coca Cola Park, Johannesburg
2012: Match Drawn 14-14 Nelson Mandela Stadium, Port Elizabeth
2012: South Africa won 16-15 Twickenham, London
2014: South Africa won 31-28 Twickenham, London
2016: England won 37-21 Twickenham, London
2018 South Africa won 42-39 Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
2018 South Africa won 23-12 Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
2018: England won 25-10 Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
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2018 has been a year to forget for England fans. After finishing 2017 with a flourish, winning all three Autumn Internationals, their team seemed to hit a wall in the Six Nations. Early victories over Italy and Wales were achieved despite poor performances, and their aura of invincibility was ended decisively by Scotland in Edinburgh. Defeats to France and Ireland followed, and their summer tour of South Africa saw a lacklustre England side lose the opening two Tests before salvaging some pride in the Third.
For South Africa, a summer that started with the uncertainty of a new coaching regime ended on a high following a spirited performance in the Rugby Championship. Rassie Erasmus’ team were boosted by their series win over England, and then bounced back from back-to-back defeats against Argentina and Australia to secure a historic 36-34 win over New Zealand in Wellington. They were also four minutes short of securing a double over the All Blacks in their final game in Pretoria.
England’s South African tour this summer was hit by a string of injuries, and they are once again heading into an important fixture against the Sprinboks with a weakened squad. The list of absentees is dominated by forwards. Back row stalwarts Billy Vunipola and Chris Robshaw will be missing, locks Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes will also be out, while Nathan Hughes and Alex Lozowski are also unavailable. There is some good news for England with the return of in-form centre Manu Tuilagi, although talented back Danny Cipriani has once again been left out by Jones.
South Africa will also have to manage without a host of first-choice players as this game falls outside the International Window, which means the Springboks’ European-based players Willie Le Roux, Faf de Klerk, Francois Louw and Cheslin Kolbe are not available, and neither is Franco Mostert, due to his ongoing negotiations with Gloucester. The Springboks are particularly weak at scrum half, where Embrose Papier, Ivan van Zyl and Louis Schreuder will compete to fill de Klerk’s spot.
Uncertainty over England’s form and South Africa’s inexperienced line-up is reflected in the current Match Winners odds for this game, with Eddie Jones’ side priced up at around 3/4 and the Springboks generally available at 5/4. There are cases to be made for both sides to win this game. England will be desperate to rediscover their winning form and their strong record at Twickenham means this is the ideal venue in which to do just that. But this is an improving South African side, which came through the ultimate test in Wellington, so they won’t lack for resilience or fortitude here.
The soggy conditions will favour an English style of play, but if comes down to a wrestling match, the weakened English pack are likely to struggle against one of the most impressive forward units in world rugby, and Malcolm Marx will relish the opportunity to shine on this particular stage. All the signs are that this will be a titanic struggle and with the bookmakers taking no chances in the Handicap market, I’m going to give the edge to the Springboks at odds against.
Back South Africa at 5/4.
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Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.