Another big Bok Test for PE?

2011-11-01 15:13
Springboks v All Blacks in PE - 2011 (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - Port Elizabeth may be the recipient of another blue-chip Springbok Test match next year.

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The South African Rugby Union has not yet released the Bok itinerary for 2012, which will include three home Tests against England, the new-look Four Nations competition also featuring Argentina for the first time, and the traditional end-of-year visit to the northern hemisphere.

But at least two British-based sports travel operators - they are often a good yardstick of itineraries before they become “official” - are indicating to potential travellers on their websites that the English Tests, already known to be on June 9, 16 and 23 during a gap period in Super Rugby, will be in Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth respectively.

This is the first step in the International Rugby Board’s drive to restore “old-fashioned tours” to the roster: South Africa has not seen a tour by any single nation featuring anything more than two Tests since 1996, when the All Blacks also played a trio which overlapped with the maiden Tri-Nations.

The Friendly City earned acclaim this season when New Zealand, now the World Cup champions, played the Boks at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on August 20 and the hosts finished a poor campaign on a high note by winning 18-5 before a crowd in excess of 45 000.

Next up for the Springboks after England’s visit will be the Four Nations, where all of the major southern hemisphere sides will meet each other home and away for a total of six games each - it will be played from mid-August to mid-October.

Again, no schedule is yet available but if England do play their Tests at the venues speculated, that would leave Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein of the bigger centres with “vacancies” for potential Four Nations matches.

It would seem to make sense for, say, the Free State capital to host Argentina and the larger stadiums of Loftus and Newlands scrap it out for rights to an All Blacks or Wallabies Test.

The Cape Town venue is certain to stage an attractive international fixture in 2012 because it had no Test at all in 2011.

SARU's general manager: corporate affairs, Andy Colquhoun, told Sport24 there were still some loose ends to tie up and they hoped to officially announce the Bok 2012 fixtures in just over a week's time.

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