The Springboks will kick off their 2014 season against a World XV, to be coached by former Springbok coach Nick Mallett, at Newlands in Cape Town on 7 June, with the opposition set to be loaded with stars from both the southern and northern hemispheres.
All Black legend Carl Hayman and Springbok World Cup winner, BJ Botha, have been named as front rankers in the first release of confirmed participants named by the organisers.
The backline will feature outstanding Wallaby talents in James O’Connor, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell, as well as All Black Hosea Gear in a team that has so far been drawn from five nations.
France will be represented by stylish eighthman Julien Bonnaire and inside back François Trinh-Duc, while Toulon-based England backrower Steffon Armitage is part of a Six Nations triumvirate so far named.
“This is an almost unique opportunity to see an international team playing in South Africa with the freedom of not needing a certain result,” said Jurie Roux, the CEO of the South African Rugby Union (Saru).
“We’ve all watched on TV those festival-style games in the European winter, where great players combine their talents to produce some stunning rugby and provide a real challenge to the Sanzar nations on tour. We’ve now got one of those games on our doorstep.
The match against the World XV is the start of the 18-match countdown that coach Heyneke Meyer has in which to prepare the Springbok team for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
The Springboks will play 14 matches in 2014 before a shortened, four-match Castle Lager Rugby Championship in 2015, which will provide a final “warm-up” before the team departs for the World Cup next year.