The Citizen (KZN)

Perfect script for Irish Tests

- With Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Loftus Versfeld and Kings Park sold out within hours of tickets going on sale. And for those lucky enough to have got their hands on the said tickets some exciting Test match rugby awaits in July.

There was a time – and maybe it is still the case – when only the Springboks versus the All Blacks brought about real excitement and a thrill factor, but in the last while the Boks against Ireland has managed to bring about the same sort of anticipati­on.

And with the Boks being World Cup winners last year and having only lost to Ireland (in the pool stages) during the tournament in France, and now Ireland again being crowned Six Nations champions, the script could not have been written any better.

We’re in for two almighty big Test matches in early July and I cannot wait!

Much has been said of Ireland being the world No 1 and best team, on the back of their showing over the last few years and the fact they beat the Boks in France last year.

But the reality is Siya Kolisi’s team are ranked No 1 and are world champions – so there can’t be any debate.

However, as things stand, Ireland have beaten the Boks in their last three meetings, though none of those matches were in South Africa, and in their last 10 meetings, going back to 2009, Ireland hold a 6-4 win-loss record against the Boks.

There is very little between the teams and that is why this specific rivalry has become so exciting.

What another thrilling Six Nations it was, with many close games decided late-on, and while Ireland are deserved champions, my team of the tournament are Italy.

They may have finished fifth but played some excellent rugby, with wins against Wales (24-21 away) and Scotland (31-29 home) and drew 13-all with France away.

They also came within a whisker of beating England, going down 24-27 at home. Their only blowout was against Ireland (36-0).

July can’t come soon enough and I’m sure the players are just as excited as the fans are about the Tests to come.

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