Is this really a test match, or is it just about money and the World Cup?

springbok wit logoBy Wim van der Berg

1 June - A rugby test match traditionally is the highest level at which two countries van pit their strength against one another ‒ and however one looks at Saturday’s match between South Africa and Wales in Washington DC, this is not test sense in the full sense.

Unfortunately, that is what money and the World Cup does. The first is a non-negotiable to keep the game going, the second forces coaches to experiment with the big event in mind.

There is no place for the old-fashioned trials, and the reality is for players to show off their talents with their team mates who are in line for the Big Event ‒ this time in Japan in 2019.

South Africa play with seven new caps in their side and another six on the bench. Wales have 14 players in their match 23 with less than ten tests to their credit, but have only two uncapped players in the squad.

What is important in Saturday’s match is to see what Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has in mind as his game plan. Will it be more open that traditional Bok sides, will there be a Plan B to fall back on if running rugby backfires, will there be more forward involvement in the handling game?

Of course, Erasmus got everything he requested. Overseas players (although not for the Wales test), the alignment camps to get the players tuned into what he envisages, and the full support of the Super Rugby coaches.

The question, however, is how the bunch of players, with new combinations and personalities, will gel on the field.

The bookies say South Africa will win this one against Wales after two defeats under Allister Coetzee.

It will count as a test, and with all the many international matches being played all over and against far inferior sides, this must be accepted as such. But it rankles…

It can never be the Real McCoy

Teams ‒

15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Oupa Mohojé, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit (captain), 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Ox Nché. Bench: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Rob du Preez, 23 Warrick Gelant.
15 Hallam Amos, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 George North, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Ellis Jenkins (captain), 6 Seb Davies, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Nicky Smith. Bench: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Rhys Patchell/Gareth Davies, 23 Hadleigh Parkes.

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