Boks set to shine in 2014
South Africa will look to build upon a superb year in 2013 with 13 Tests on home soil and across the world which will test their resolve and quality as the second best rugby nation in the world.
A look ahead to June for the Springboks
The Springboks will begin 2014 with three challenging tests as they look to reclaim their status as world number one from New Zealand. Head coach Heyneke Meyer will look for a repeat performance from his men following a wonderful 2013 in which South Africa not only won 10 of their 12 Tests, but also played an exciting brand of rugby. Their progress in Meyer’s second year in charge was reflected in two narrow defeats to the Kiwis where, despite putting in spirited performances that reflected their attacking qualities and exciting play, they were undone by the Rugby Championship winners through controversial refereeing decisions and unusually slack defending.
Devastating attacking displays against Argentina in a 73-13 record-breaking victory in Rugby Championship history, and blowing Australia away 38-12 in the Bok’s first win in Brisbane for 42 years not only extended the gap between South Africa and the teams behind them in the world standings, but also reflected a side who have genuine quality in all facets of their play. There seems no reason to back against South Africa enjoying another dominant season in 2014 across bookmakers who will offer rewarding bonuses and promotions throughout the Rugby Championship. Titan bet make New Zealand early favorites for that particular competition but by having South Africa as second favorites it shows how far the South Africans have come.
South Africa will open their 2014 rugby season with what promises to be two very tough, yet interesting and exciting Tests against an ever-improving Wales. Although the 2013 Six Nations champions failed to defend their title, Warren Gatland’s side has risen to sixth in the world rankings through unbridled passion and a strong team unit that ranks amongst the best in their history. Kings Park in Durban will be home to the Springbok’s first Test in the calendar year on June 14, with both teams travelling to the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit a week later. The Tests will provide Wales with the opportunity to avenge their 24-15 defeat in South Africa’s opening fixture of their unbeaten northern hemisphere tour at the back end of 2013. Led by the fearless flanker Sam Warburton, Wales will depend on their strong defensive line-up and the undoubted talents of full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who narrowly missed out on the World Player of the Year award following a superb year for club and country.
Although many expect Wales to prove a stern test for South Africa in Durban and Nelspruit, history would suggest that the Springboks should be backed across bookmakers to win both test matches. South Africa have won all 8 games played against the two sides on home turf, with Wales recording just a single victory in the 27 matches played to date, which came in 1999 at the Millennium Stadium.
The third of the 13 Tests organised by the South African Rugby Union in 2014 will see the Springboks take on Scotland in Port Elizabeth on June 28 at the iconic Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. The Test will be at the ground named after the South Africa's former president who sadly passed away at the age of 95 last year in what promises to be a day full of remembrance. Despite a relatively disappointing Six Nations campaign, winning only one of their five matches, Scotland can take encouragement from their performances against the Springboks in 2013. Despite a 28-0 humbling at Murrayfield in late November, Scotland gave South Africa a real scare in Nelspruit during the Quadrangular Tournament last June through some excellent, free-flowing rugby that was sadly undone by poor discipline as the Springboks clawed their way back to record a scarcely deserved 30-17 win. New head coach Vern Cotter will look to address the 51-3 horror show in Scott Johnson’s final game as interim coach and restore some pride in Scottish rugby.