It’s been a long-time coming, but the 2016 edition of the highly-anticipated Rugby Championship gets underway, and while the Wallabies and All Blacks go head-to-head for their Bledisloe pride, the Springboks’ first obstacle is the spirited Pumas in Nelspruit. Here’s 15 things you need to know before kick-off:
• The total Test caps in the starting line-up is 420, which consist of 153 caps in the backline and 267 among the forwards. The combined Test caps of those on the bench are 45. The average caps per player in the match-23 is 20.
• Adriaan Strauss will be captaining the side for the fourth time in his 58th test.
• The youngest player in the 23 man squad is Jesse Kriel (22y, 5m) while the oldest member of the team is Bryan Habana (33y, 2m).
• The following players will play in their fourth consecutive match in the starting XV under Alister Coetzee: Lionel Mapoe, Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk, Francois Louw, Eben Etzebeth, Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira.
• Bryan Habana needs one try to extend his own tournament career record to 20, which will equal 100 tournament career points. One try will also extend his own world record for most Test tries as a wing to 65. He needs three appearances in this tournament to reach 50 tournament appearances.
• Eben Etzebeth will play in his 25th consecutive Test match.
• Francois Louw will play in his 20th Lager Rugby Championship Test.
• Lager Rugby Championship debuts: Ruan Combrinck, Faf de Klerk and Julian Redelinghuys. Also Steven Kitshoff, Jaco Kriel, Bongi Mbonambi and Rudy Paige, should they be used off the bench.
• Adriaan Straus will be the 13th Springbok captain in the competition.
Head to head:
• South Africa and Argentina played their first Test in the Lager Rugby Championship four years ago, almost to the day, on 18 August, 2012. Saturday’s Test will be the eighth Rugby Championship match between the two countries. Of the previous seven, South Africa won five with one match drawn and a loss in Durban last year, the first ever loss against Argentina since their first Test in 1993.
• The Springboks’ record is as follows: Played 7, Won 5, Lost 1, Drawn 1, Points for 209, Points against 126, Tries for 21, Tries against 11, Average score 30-18.
• The match officials for this match are: Referee – Glen Jackson (New Zealand); Assistant referees – Jérôme Garcès (France) and Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) with the TMO George Ayoub (Australia).
• It will be Jackson’s fourth appearance as referee in Test matches involving South Africa. The Springboks were victorious in all three previous Tests where the New Zealander refereed.
• Mbombela Stadium’s seating capacity is 40 929.
• The Springbok record at the stadium is: Played 2, Won 2, Points for 61, Points against 47, Tries for 7, Tries against 5, Average score 31-24.
Springboks – 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Jesse Kriel.
Argentina – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sanchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Julían Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petty, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano.
What is your prediction for the game? Let us know by tweeting us @MenStuffZA!