3 Talking Points Ahead of England’s Summer Tour of South Africa

3 Talking Points Ahead of England’s Summer Tour of South Africa

South Africa v England” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Clive G’

With another season of domestic rugby done and dusted in Europe, England head to South Africa for a three-Test summer Tour.

The Red Rose meet the hosting Springboks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg first on Saturday, 9 June, then Eddie Jones’s team play them in Bloemfontein seven days later and the third game is at Newlands in Cape Town on 23 June.

As ever with England, but also South Africa, there are talking points ahead of this series, so we look at three of them.

Can Red Rose stop the rot?

Including their 45-63 loss to the Barbarians at Twickenham before departing for the tour, which isn’t recognised as a full international, England head to South Africa off the back of four consecutive defeats.

Eddie Jones” by Belinda Lester (CC BY-SA 2.0)

That is the poorest run of form for the Red Rose since Tasmania native and former Springboks assistant Jones took charge as England’s first foreign head coach. The tourists go into this away series ranked three places higher than South Africa and third in the world, yet they start as 7/4 betting outsiders for this series. Both sides will, of course, be hoping to gain some momentum ahead of the 2019 World Cup, with Bet365 pricing England at 11/2 and South Africa at 10/1. You can catch these latest bet365 offers to use on all international rugby.

Regular Red Rose captain Dylan Hartley misses the Tour following a concussion on international duty that ended his club campaign as well, so England must bounce back under the on-pitch leadership of playmaker and kicker Owen Farrell. The hosts are odds-on favourites to triumph after Jones named a party that contains fresh faces and some fringe players

Springboks make historic appointment

While new South Africa boss Rassie Erasmus took charge of his country for the first time against Wales in the United States for a warm-up friendly, he has already taken some big decisions. Chief among those is naming the Springboks’ first-ever black Test captain in flanker Siya Kolisi.

His experience skippering South African Super Rugby franchise Western Stormers mean the back row already brings leadership qualities to the table, but questions of why it has taken more than 24 years since the end of apartheid for this to happen have surfaced. For many Springboks supporters, this selection should hopefully help to finally shake off beliefs that rugby is a white person’s sport.

Do overseas players rules need looking at?

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A key factor in the Barbarians beating England before they set off for South Africa was Toulon wing Chris Ashton crossing for a hat-trick. As he plays in France’s Top 14 league, the former Red Rose international back is effectively in international exile due to rules on not being eligible for selection when you play club rugby abroad.

Reports of there being exceptional circumstances that would allow foreign based English rugby players to represent their country exist, but only if an injury crisis were so severe that call-ups would come as a last resort. It’s a real bone of contention and this may be time for the RFU to reassess their rules.

While Jones cannot select players plying their trade abroad on his Red Rose roster, Springboks counter Erasmus has had no qualms about calling up a few for his first squad. South Africa have Montpellier hooker Bismarck du Plessis and centre Francois Steyn back in the fold, alongside Sale Sharks scrum half Faf de Klerk, Wasps fullback Willie le Roux and Toulon number eight Duane Vermuelen.