Wales men’s rugby team arrived in beautiful but turbulent South Africa this week. The South African nation isn’t alone in experiencing tumult. Truth be told it is a current global phenomenon. Will the men’s XVs rugby provide an entertaining diversion from our perplexing and worrying news cycle? Something that the Lions tour of last year failed to do so. Taking place as it did in a Covid-19 induced bubble. Whatever the case, South Africa emerged from that series as deserved winners. This is a Wales tour of South Africa preview that looks at the expectations of Welsh fans. Time will also be given to look at the two team’s squads.
🏴have arrived in 🇿🇦 pic.twitter.com/JwKlilGjyE
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) June 24, 2022
Expectations in Wales
Expectations are low amongst the supporting public. Only die-hard optimists see Wales winning this series. South Africa have never lost against Wales at home in the ten match-ups that have taken place so far. Whilst thinking about expectations I looked up some quotes on the topic. Who doesn’t appreciate a good quote from time to time?
One from American businessman Warren Buffett:
“The secret to happiness is having low expectations.”
And one from former Ohio State Representative, Les Brown:
“No one rises to low expectations.”
Which is it to be during this tour? Adam Beard was quoted as saying that Wales perform best as underdogs. Is this borne out of reality? Or is he trying to put a positive spin on the tour, given all the doom and gloom around Welsh rugby at the moment?
When Wales’ squad was announced the most notable omission was Jac Morgan. Pivac’s explanation for this left many people scratching their heads in Wales. Morgan was told he need to improve his strength at the breakdown. All the while the Ospreys flanker had been putting up a number of impressive statistics in the United Rugby Championship for tackles, and tellingly, breakdown steals.
Thomas Booth’s starting XV for the 1st Test against the Springboks
My fifteen for the Wales tour of South Africa preview is as follows:
- Wyn Jones
- Dewi Lake
- Tomas Francis
- Will Rowlands
- Adam Beard
- Dan Lydiate
- Josh Navidi
- Taulupe Faletau
- Tomos Williams
- Gareth Anscombe
- Josh Adams
- Dan Biggar
- George North
- Alex Cuthbert
- Liam Williams
There are many talking points here: Biggar at twelve, an in-form Tompkins on the bench (ditto Rees-Zammit), a rusty Lydiate thrown into the fire and no place for Alun-Wyn. As is always the case with an armchair supporter’s team selection. This could be a stroke of genius, or incoherent ramblings! The reasoning behind the selection is trying to provide Wales with some much-needed strength, solidity and experience. This while also supplying an element of attacking threat.
South African coach Jacques Nienaber recently named a 43-man squad for the fixtures across three weekends in July. Eight uncapped players are selected giving South Africa’s team a slightly experimental feel.
"The @Springboks aren't just us, the Springboks are 3 entities, it's us, the fans & sponsors who are our employers, and the media, the fan & the sponsor doesn't always have access to us, and that's where the media comes in- Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber pic.twitter.com/mzJGVuEld7
— Ntsako Mkhari (@Ntsako_Mkhari_) June 23, 2022
The World Champions still retain a strong and experienced core as well as recalls for a few players who have been out of the picture.
Conclusion: Wales tour of South Africa
No surprise that South Africa are strong favourites for this one. Wales is struggling for identity, belief and confidence. The Springboks on the other hand are chock-full of all of those ingredients on the rugby field. Sport is unpredictable (one of the reasons we love it) so don’t rule out a shock victory. However, a Welsh series win would go down as one of the most remarkable rugby outcomes of all time.
The matches are being televised live on Sky Sports Action from 3:30 pm (July 2nd, 9th & 16th). Extended highlights on S4C each evening after the game at 9:pm (following an agreement with Sky).
“Main photo credit:”
Welsh Rugby Union Twitter account