Cape Town – Should South Africa win all three of their June Tests, they will make it 10 wins from 10 matches against Ireland on home soil.
Ireland have played just seven matches in South Africa since 1961, which is a great indicator of the historic nature of the current tour.
That one-off match in 1961 was played in Cape Town – the Springboks winning by a comfortable 24-8 scoreline.
The last time Ireland were here was in 2004 when they went down 31-17 in Bloemfontein and then 26-17 in Cape Town.
Current forwards coach Simon Easterby started both of those matches in the No 6 jersey for the Irish, and he remembers them well.
“It is a huge challenge,” he said.
“It was a massive challenge coming to a country that is hugely
passionate about the game of rugby.
“But with that challenge presents some real
opportunities for us as well. We’ve got a really exciting crop of players and
we’re going to learn a lot about those players over the next three weeks.”
Ireland are also heavily watered down with injuries, with flyhalf Johnny Sexton absent alongside fellow backliners Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald.
“Every team will travel from the northern hemisphere to the
southern hemisphere this summer without certain players and we’re no different,” said Easterby.
“What it does do is allow us to view these players up close for the next three
weeks, especially those that we’re not as familiar with.
“Players that have
excelled in our own Pro12 have been given a chance and that’s great. It builds
Both sides will be naming their match-day squads on Thursday afternoon.
History of SA v Ireland in SA:
1961, Cape Town: SA 24-8 Ireland
1981, Cape Town: SA 23-15 Ireland
1981, Durban: SA 12-10 Ireland
1998, Bloemfontein: SA 37-13 Ireland
1998, Pretoria: SA 30-0 Ireland
2004, Bloemfontein: SA 31-17 Ireland
2004, Cape Town: SA 26-17 Ireland