While it’s a whole six months down the line, the new Springbok coach, or Heyneke Meyer if he continues, could expect a baptism of fire when the Boks’ international season resumes in June next year.
By then the dust would have settled after the disappointing end to their World Cup campaign, but it would leave the new Bok squad with very little time to prepare or to start jelling in a unit after the Super Rugby takes a brief break to allow for the June Test window.
Not only will the new coach – or Meyer – have to rely on and hold brief camps in the midst of Super Rugby but he will only have a week or two to prepare with the entire squad before the first Ireland Test in Cape Town on June 11.
Of course there will also – and/or a new coach??? – be a new captain and new squad members which will mark the start of the Boks renewed effort to again try and close the gap on the All Blacks in order to ensure enough confidence before the next World Cup in Japan in 2019.
Meyer of course only faced Ireland twice in the four years in the 48 Tests that he has been in charge with the Boks edging the Irish 16-12 in 2012, but losing heavily 29-15 to Ireland last November with both these Tests played out in Dublin, while the Boks also lost 12-6 to Wales on that forgettable trip.
Down the years the Boks have faced Ireland in 22 Tests, but 15 of these Tests took place in Ireland and only seven on SA soil, with the Boks having won 16, Ireland five and one game being drawn.
This is however the first time Ireland will conduct a 3-Test series in SA, while it is also the first time Ireland will put foot on SA soil since 2004 when Jake White was still in charge of the Boks.
In that ’04 series, which marked the start of White’s rein, the Boks won the opener 31-17 in Bloemfontein and 26-17 in Cape Town to win the series 2-0 but the end of that year the Boks, who had just won the Tri-Nations in White’s first season in charge, went down 17-12 to the Irish during their end-of-the-year tour to the United Kingdom.
There were also the bleak period between 2004 and 2009 when the Irish won three straight Test matches against the Boks in Dublin, the above-mentioned 17-12 in in 2004, the 32-15 win of 2006 and the 15-12 win of 2009, with the last being under Peter de Villiers’s watch who replaced White after the 2007 World Cup heroics.
Springbok home fixtures in 2016
Castle Lager Incoming Series v Ireland
11 June: South Africa v Ireland (1st Test), DHL Newlands, Cape Town
18 June: South Africa v Ireland (2nd Test), Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
25 June: South Africa v Ireland (3rd Test), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Castle Lager Rugby Championship (home fixtures)
20 August: South Africa v Argentina, Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
1 October: South Africa v Australia, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
8 October: South Africa v New Zealand, Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban