The Springboks and Wales meet on neutral ground in Washington on Saturday in what should be an interesting match and exciting start to the Test season for both sides. But, before things get underway, there are some important stats and facts to take note of heading into the encounter:
• The match in Washington will only be the second time that South Africa will face Wales on neutral ground outside of a Rugby World Cup. Previously, the two rivals played at Wembley Stadium in London during the construction of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. On that occasion, on 14 November 1998, Gary Teichmann’s Springbok side won 28-20.
• It will only be the third time that the Springboks will play a Test match in the USA. In 1981, Wynand Claassen’s Springboks beat the USA Eagles (38-7) in Glenville, and in 2001 the Springboks, under captain André Vos, won their Test match against the USA by 43-20 in Houston.
• The Robert F Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington DC, with a capacity of 45 596, is a multi-sport facility for both baseball and football. Amongst others, it has also hosted boxing matches, marathon finishes and concerts. The Springboks have never played here before.
• South Africa’s overall record against Wales: P: 33; W: 28; L: 4; D: 1; PF: 872; PA: 510; TF: 106; TA: 42; Average score: 26-15. Win rate: 85%.
• The following players will make their Test debut: Travis Ismaiel, who will celebrate his 26th birthday on match day, Makazole Mapimpi, André Esterhuizen, Ivan van Zyl, Kwagga Smith, Jason Jenkins and Ox Nché, while there are six reserves on the bench who could also make their debut.
• Only eight players in the squad have played against Wales before. They are Dan du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Wilco Louw, Oupa Mohojé, Warrick Gelant, and Chiliboy Ralepelle.
• Should Robert du Preez be used as a substitute, it will be the first time in Springbok history that there will be a set of a Springbok father with three Springbok sons – Robert (snr), Jean-Luc, Dan and Robert (jnr). The Du Preez’s will also become the fourth set of three Springbok brothers. The previous three sets were the Luyt brothers (1912), the Bekker brothers (1960) and the Du Plessis brothers (1984).
• The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 134. The Springbok record for the least experienced Springbok starting XV is 40 v France in Durban in 1993.
• There are 53 caps in the backline with 81 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 25 caps.
• The average caps per player in the backline are 8, the forwards 10 while the players on the bench average 3. The average age of the starting 15 is 24.
The match officials:
• The referee is Matthew Carley of England. He was born on 21 December 1984 in Dover and made his international debut as a referee on 25 June, 2016 in Sacramento, California in a Test between the USA and Russia. This Test will be his first with South Africa involved.
• The Assistant Referees are Alexandre Ruiz of France and Frank Murphy of Ireland. The TMO will be David Grashoff of England.
Springboks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Oupa Mohojé, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit (c), 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Rob du Preez, 23 Warrick Gelant.
Wales – 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 George North, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 6 Seb Davies, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Nicky Smith.
Subs: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Rhys Patchell/Gareth Davies, 23 Hadleigh Parkes.