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‘It's the people’s champions against the actual champions’ - Ireland great weighs in

Paris , France - 23 September 2023; Bundee Aki of Ireland makes a break during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France in Paris, France. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The build up to the most hotly contested midyear tour is ramping up, as outspoken former Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy has added his voice the Springboks vs Ireland series.

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Ireland will travel to South Africa for a two-Test series against the double world champions in July, off the back of another successful Six Nations championship, but a World Cup that ended at the quarter final stages.

Ireland did edge South Africa 13-8 in the pool stages, but ultimately couldn’t push on after coming up against New Zealand in the knockouts.

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D’Arcy, who played 82 times for his country, believes that despite Ireland possibly being ‘tired’, it will be a true test that determines who the number one team in the world is.

Speaking to a media round table last for the URC, D’Arcy said that the Springboks did what they needed to do to retain their title.

“You have the world champions on merit,” he said.

“What I loved about the South African win was that they didn’t let a group match derail them and I just thought the resilience they showed to come back was fantastic.”

He went on to hint that Ireland will probably be a bit fatigued going into the tour.

“The season started to tell a little bit for Ireland towards the end of that Six Nations.

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“‘Tired’ is probably the wrong word but there are a lot of the same players playing in a lot of the same matches. With a couple of injuries and another round or two in the Six Nations, they might not have had the legs to keep going.

“I think Ireland will be tired coming down to South Africa. That said, I think there will be a couple of bodies coming back in and a couple of new faces added to that squad and we have two brilliant coaching tickets.”

Making some bold claims on the ‘best team in the world’ debate, D’Arcy said:

“It is the people’s favourite against the actual favourite. It is the people’s champions against the actual champions. I’m joking, but it’s going to be a fantastic series.

“It is the pick of the [July] Tests for me and I just hope Ireland will give a good account of themselves.

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“We know how much travel takes out of teams on the road, being away from home after a long season, and you guys [South Africa] are getting started, but it certainly won’t disappoint.”

The first Test will be in Pretoria on July 6, followed by the second in Durban a week later, on July 13.

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