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England vs South Africa: RPI gives the Springboks the advantage at Twickenham

By Alex Shaw
Duane Vermeulen of the Springboks clings to ball during June Test against England. (Photo by Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images)

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Head coaches Eddie Jones and Rassie Erasmus have both named their teams to play at Twickenham on Saturday, as their rivalry from this summer is resumed.


England fell to a 2-1 series defeat in South Africa back in June, after having ended an almost 10-year slump against the Springboks back in November of 2016, then beating the southern hemisphere side 37-21 at Twickenham.

England have struggled since those early highs under Jones, however, and South Africa have been making steady progress under Erasmus, including a morale-boosting win over the All Blacks in Wellington, back in September.

The RugbyPass Index (RPI) charts the performances of players using a combination of complex statistics, positional weighting and influence in the phases building up to scoring moments. Here is how to the two sides set to do battle on Saturday stack up on the RPI.

Front rowAlec Hepburn (71), Dylan Hartley (72) and Kyle Sinckler (68) vs Steven Kitshoff (71), Malcolm Marx (91) and Frans Malherbe (73)

Second rowMaro Itoje (93) and George Kruis (87) vs Eben Etzebeth (90) and Pieter-Steph du Toit (71)

Back rowBrad Shields (69), Tom Curry (66) and Mark Wilson (64) vs Duane Vermeulen (90), Siya Kolisi (83) and Warren Whiteley (89)


Half-backsBen Youngs (75) and Owen Farrell (92) vs Ivan van Zyl (63) and Handré Pollard (86)

Centres – Ben Te’o (66) and Henry Slade (84) vs Damian de Allende (79) and Jesse Kriel (72)

Back threeJonny May (78), Jack Nowell (89) and Elliot Daly (85) vs Aphiwe Dyantyi (77), Sbu Nkosi (75) and Damian Willemse (81)

Overall XVs – England (1,159) vs South Africa (1,191)


BenchesJamie George (88), Ben Moon (86), Harry Williams (81), Charlie Ewels (62), Zach Mercer (67), Danny Care (66), George Ford (79) and Manu Tuilagi (76) vs Bongi Mbonambi (75), Thomas du Toit (81), Wilco Louw (75), RG Snyman (84), Lood de Jager (81), Embrose Papier (65), Elton Jantjies (82) and André Esterhuizen (84)

Overall 23s – England (1,764) vs South Africa (1,818)

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Watch: Introducing the RugbyPass Index – how it works

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It looks as if the Springboks have a slight advantage over England based on the RPI, one which is made starker when you include the potential impacts of the benches, too. That said, will home advantage be enough to swing it in England’s favour?

The home side look particularly outmatched in the back row, but they will be confident about their chances given the strength of their lock and half-back pairings, as well as the increased impact their bench front row potentially offers.

Look for the back row battle, the introduction of the second string front rows and the play of the two half-back partnerships to be particular flashpoints in this one.

Watch: The Rugby Pod discuss why extending the Gallagher Premiership season is a bad idea.

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England vs South Africa: RPI gives the Springboks the advantage at Twickenham