At a glance, the three-match battle between South Africa and Wales appears less significant than a bout between the All Blacks and a revamped Ireland, or an arm-wrestle between the Wallabies and England.
By the end of July, we should have a clearer idea about where the Antipodeans stand ahead of the Rugby Championship, and whether Ireland and England have what it takes to win regularly outside Europe.
The world champions – who beat the British & Irish Lions last year – are expected to win the series against Wales at a canter. Little is expected of a Welsh outfit that finished a disastrous Six Nations campaign with a defeat to Italy in Cardiff.
Closer analysis, however, reveals what’s at stake for the Springboks in the short, middle and long term.
The Boks are working towards the two-game mini series against the All Blacks, which is scheduled for early August. They’re desperate to reclaim the Freedom Cup as well as the Rugby Championship title.
The Boks will travel to Europe to face Ireland, France, Italy and England on consecutive weekends in November. Wins against Ireland, who are in the same World Cup pool, and France, the current Six Nations champions, will go some way to enhancing their reputation as the world’s leading side.
No room for complacency
In their current guise, Wales don’t warrant comparison to the All Blacks, Ireland or France. But with future fixtures in mind, the Boks will take nothing for granted when they face the Dragons this month.
There’s been a lot of talk about the World Cup squad, and individuals have been told they’re competing for a spot on the plane to France in 2src23. The competition in the group should eradicate any complacency.
Beyond the quest for momentum, the Boks have a point to prove against their Welsh counterparts. Wales have won four of the past seven Tests against the Boks. The margin of victory has been fewer than seven points on five occasions in this period.
After winning the two previous encounters, the Boks have begun to regain t
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