Springboks line up 12th ranked Georgians as pre-Lions preparation
The two sides have met just once on a rugby field, when the Springboks beat the Lelos 46 – 19 in the pool stages of the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia.
The news will come as some relief for South African fans, especially given reports over the weekend that Springboks were running into logistic difficulties when lining up pre-Lions opposition. With that said, while the Georgians represent a sturdy physical test, eleven places between the sides in World Rugby ranking suggests the men in dark red might struggle to offer the Boks a Test series of the intensity they desire ahead of the visit of the Lions.
The Georgians lost every one of their Autumn Nation Cup games in 2020 and failed to register points in two of their four games, shipping a heavy loss to Fiji in their final game of the ad hoc tournament. A likely two-game victory against the Eastern Europeans will hardly dispel fears that the World Champions are going into the Lions series undercooked.
"They are rightfully World Cup holders, but this era of Springboks rugby hasn’t proven to the world they are anything but a good side who won the World Cup with a helpful schedule."@bensmithrugby ??? asks where is the sudden Bok confidence coming from? https://t.co/FvxrGt9Oma
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 10, 2021
“Nothing beats a full-blooded international to test your skill set, readiness and ability under pressure, and we are delighted to have this opportunity before the Lions series,” said South Africa Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus. “Jacques (Nienaber), his coaching staff and management have been working around the clock to get the team as well prepared as possible, and the Georgia series is a much-needed opportunity after such a long and unforeseen interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Last year, Nienaber was named as Springbok head coach, but the worldwide pandemic has prevented the Rugby World Cup champions from playing any Test matches since 2 November 2019, when they defeated England in the final in Japan.
“The confirmation of the Georgian Tests, and the announcement of the British and Irish Lions squad last week have caused a lot of excitement and I am sure it will lift the spirit of the players – we can now accelerate our preparations for our return to Test rugby,” said Nienaber.
Lasha Khurtsidze, the Georgian vice-president for High Performance and Development, said the match was a great honor and a sign of the growing relationship between the two unions.
“Playing against them is a great honor for us,” said Khurtsidze. “We have only played the Springboks once before, in our first Rugby World Cup appearance in 2003, when we scored the first try. A lot of time has passed since then, they are the current world champions and we have developed as well.”
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