Cape Town – South Africa having the significant advantage of facing New Zealand on home soil has been confirmed in the draw for the 2015 Castle Rugby Championship.
As expected, SANZAR issued a release on Monday revealing that the Springboks will tackle their great foes the All Blacks at a South African venue to be decided on Saturday, July 25.
It will be part of a curtailed, single-round Championship for the first time since its inception in 2012, a situation brought about by the priority given to next year’s World Cup in England and Wales from September.
There is also no June Test window period next year, with Super Rugby instead being contested on an uninterrupted basis.
The Boks play both the defending champion All Blacks and Argentina (Saturday, August 8, venue also undisclosed) at home, with their only overseas obligation being against Australia in Brisbane (Saturday, July 18).
They will not be too daunted by the Suncorp Stadium fixture, given that it was there that they broke a long-time Queensland duck in the 2013 competition, earning a thumping, bonus-point 38-12 victory.
Indeed, the very fact that they will play New Zealand in South Africa, and in a slashed tournament with a 2-1 advantage in home games, suggests Heyneke Meyer’s charges will have their best opportunity yet to claim the title: the All Blacks are the only names engraved on the trophy in the three prior years of the event.
Tackling Richie McCaw and company in South Africa would also come on the back of seeing them off 27-25 in a 2014 Championship dead-rubber Ellis Park match two Saturdays back.
As revealed by coach Meyer to Sport24 several weeks ago, there will be an additional week of matches between the four competing countries on Saturday, August 15 for World Cup preparation purposes, but not involving Championship points – New Zealand will host the Aussies and the Boks travel to Argentina for a once-off there.
The 2015 Championship will commence a fortnight after the Super Rugby final, pencilled for July 4.
When SARU revealed the venues for various future Bok Test fixtures back in 2012, it was assumed that next year’s Championship would still be a double round, and the cities staging games would be Cape Town (Argentina), Johannesburg (New Zealand) and Durban (Australia).
But with a home Wallabies fixture now out of the picture, the body’s General Council will have to discuss and ratify adjusted venues at their next meeting scheduled for December.
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