Wales to play South Africa in June ahead of Australia tour

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Wales will meet world champions South Africa in a one-off test at neutral Twickenham on June 22, a first fixture for the Springboks since the return of Rassie Erasmus as head coach following their Rugby World Cup triumph in France last year. Warren Gatland’s side will also travel to Australia for two tests, the first in Sydney on July 6 followed by a second match in Melbourne a week later.

Both Wales and South Africa could be severely depleted for their meeting as the game will fall outside of World Rugby’s international window and on the same day scheduled for the United Rugby Championship final. South Africa’s Stormers and Bulls, who both have a large number of Springboks, contested the URC final in 2022 and the former made a repeat appearances last year.  They are in contention again.

The Springboks inflicted a record 35-7 defeat on old foes New Zealand in front of a sizeable expatriate crowd at Twickenham last August, where they first experimented with their 7-1 split between forwards and backs on the bench. Depleted or not, they will use this test to fine-tune for two home fixtures against Ireland in July, where the number one ranking in the world could be on the line.

“We have very fond memories of the World Cup warm-up test we played against the All Blacks at Twickenham last year,” Erasmus said in a statement. “The fact that we are playing Wales, who we have faced there before in an exhilarating 2015 World Cup quarter-final, will bring back plenty of memories as well.”

Wales coach Warren Gatland is rebuilding his squad with young players and sees the clash at Twickenham as an important stepping-stone. South Africa thumped the Welsh 52-16 in a World Cup warm-up game in Cardiff in August. “To have the opportunity for our young squad to test itself against the world champions at a neutral venue is an extremely important experience and something that we will relish,” Gatland said.

“We know the Wallabies will be hurting after the Rugby World Cup but Australia is a tough place to go and play rugby and we’re expecting a fired up side led by new head coach Joe Schmidt.”

The match at Twickenham forms part of a double-header in South West London as a Robbie Deans-coached Barbarians side play Fiji later in the day.