South Africa: 14 Springboks start preparations for Test season with alignment camp

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

The Springboks are set to kick off their preparations for the 2023 season with their first training camp of the year, which will be held in Cape Town from Sunday, February 19 to Friday, March 10.

Only 14 players have been invited to the Boks’ first team activity of 2023 as they gear up for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France in September and October.

All the players are of national interest and have not been in action in United Rugby Championship (URC) in recent few weeks.

Off-field and on-field sessions

The camp will consist of several off-field alignment sessions as well as on-field training sessions to prepare the players for the rest of the season from a rugby and physical perspective.

The players will head back to their domestic franchises for the closing stages of the URC and Champions Cup competitions, respectively.

“We are thrilled to get this important season going, albeit with a small group of players as we look forward to the Rugby World Cup in less than seven months,” said Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.

“All of these players come off an important resting period, so the next three weeks will be crucial to ensure that they return to full-out rugby as effectively as possible and to get everyone aligned with our structures going into the World Cup year.

“Our first Rugby World Cup encounter against Scotland on Sunday, 10 September, is approaching fast, so we have to make the most of each day we have with the players.

“Player management will be particularly important this season to get the squad to peak at the right time, while at the same time getting the desired results in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, our World Cup warm-up games and at the international showpiece as we attempt to defend our title.”

South Africa’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, echoed Nienaber’s sentiments.

Raring to go

“This is a massive year for the team, and we can’t wait to get back into the swing of things with an eye on the World Cup,” he said.

“With the Vodacom URC on the go, we only have a small bunch of players available to work with at this stage, but we know from past experience that every minute with the players on and off the field counts in a World Cup year.

“I would like to thank the franchises for their cooperation and assistance in ensuring that some of our key players could get the rest they needed physically and mentally as we enter this critical year for the team and the country.

“I would also like to thank MyPlayers for their role in making the break possible for the players.”

South Africa will start their 2023 Test campaign with a Rugby Championship clash against Australia in Pretoria on Saturday, July 8.

That will be followed by an encounter against New Zealand at the Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland a week later and Argentina in Johannesburg on Saturday, July 29, in their last match on home soil before they start the build-up to the defence of their Rugby World Cup title.

In August, the Boks head to Buenos Aires to face Los Pumas before they take on Wales and the All Blacks in Rugby World Cup warm-up games in Cardiff and London, respectively. That will bring their World Cup preparations to an end before they head to France for the global showpiece.

They start their Rugby World Cup campaign on Sunday, September 10, against Scotland in Marseille, before facing Romania in Bordeaux (September 17), Ireland in Paris (September 23) and Tonga in Marseille (October 1) in their other pool matches.

The Rugby World Cup quarter-finals will take place on the weekend of October 14/15, with the semi-finals on October 20/21 and the final on Saturday, October 28.

Springbok fixtures for 2023:

Rugby Championship:

Saturday, July 8 v Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)

Saturday, July 15 v New Zealand (Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland)

Saturday, July 29 v Argentina (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)

Rugby World Cup warm-up fixtures:

Saturday, August 5 v Argentina (Buenos Aires)

Saturday, August 19 v Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)

Friday, August 25 v New Zealand (Twickenham, London)

Rugby World Cup fixtures:

Sunday, September 10 v Scotland (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)

Sunday, September 17 v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)

Saturday, September 23 v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)

Sunday, October 1 v Tonga (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)

Weekend of October 14/15 – Quarter-finals

Weekend of October 21/22 – Semi-finals

Saturday, October 28 – Final

READ MORE: Cheslin Kolbe: Springbok flyer says he is staying put at Toulon

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