THE programme for England’s historic three-test tour of South Africa has been confirmed and boss Stuart Lancaster is looking forward to the “massive and exciting challenge” ahead.
June’s tour will be the first in which a single nation has played three tests in South Africa since New Zealand’s visit in 1996 and Lancaster’s squad will play midweek games as well as their clashes with the Springboks.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has announced a ‘traditional-style’ tour, in which England will play matches in Kimberley and Potchefstroom on the platteland (countryside) 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.
Former Wakefield RFC player and Kettlethorpe High School PE teacher 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 Six Nations and this tour is another important step on the journey towards 2015.”
Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU said: “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.
“The Rugby Football Union has 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 confirmed that the teams would be selected from the players of the eight Absa Currie Cup First Division teams while the coaches will be appointed in due course.
England will arrive in South Africa on May 31 and the series takes place during a Vodacom Super Rugby shutdown across the Southern Hemisphere, with New Zealand hosting Ireland in three tests and Wales on tour in Australia.
The full fixture schedule (all matches shown live on Sky Sports HD) is:
Saturday, June 9: South Africa v England (1st test), Mr Price King’s Park, Durban (kick off 5pm local, 4pm BST)
Wednesday, June 13: SA Barbarians South v England, GWK Park, Kimberley (kick off 2.30pm local, 1.30pm BST)
Saturday, June 16: South Africa v England (2nd test), Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg (kick off 5pm local, 4pm BST)
Tuesday, June 19: SA Barbarians North v England, Profert Olen Park, Potchefstroom (kick off 7.10pm local, 6.10pm BST)
Saturday, June 23: South Africa v England (3rd test), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth (kick off 5pm local, 4pm BST)
Read Friday’s Wakefield Express for more of the latest rugby union news.