Princess Charlene Meets with Springboks Ahead of England Match

LONDON – The Springboks were visited by Royalty on Friday when Princess Charlene of Monaco dropped in on the Captains Run at Twickenham, to wish them well for their match against England on Saturday afternoon at the London venue.


The former South African Olympic swimmer met with the team and exchanged gifts. She’ll return home with two tiny Springbok jerseys for her twins Gabriella and Jacques.

The national rugby team was also met by Brand South Africa and Bok legend Morné du Plessis who presented the boys with their match day jerseys on Friday morning in Kensington.

Several changes have been made for the important opening Test of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.

Only five players who started in the 31-31 draw against the Barbarians last week at Wembley were again included in a much changed line-up for the Test against the English.

They are Beast Mtawarira (prop), Pieter-Steph du Toit (flank), Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), Pat Lambie (flyhalf) and Francois Venter (outside centre).

Venter will make his Test debut on Saturday following his good showing last week at Wembley and his centre partner is Damian de Allende, who will win his 21st cap for the Springboks.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: Francois Venter of South Africa scores a try during the Killik Cup match between Barbarians and South Africa at Wembley Stadium on November 5, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Joel Ford/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 05: Francois Venter of South Africa scores a try during the Killik Cup match between Barbarians and South Africa at Wembley Stadium on November 5, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Joel Ford/Getty Images)

The injury to Roelof Smit and a host of other flankers, as well as the unavailability of other experienced loose forwards, meant Springbok coach Allister Coetzee was forced into revamping his loose trio. The Bok coach decided to move Du Toit from second row to the side of the scrum, a position he is familiar with, as he will bring much-needed ball carrying ability and more lineout options.

The experienced Willem Alberts will start on the other side of the scrum, while Warren Whiteley retains the No 8 jersey he wore throughout the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

Du Toit’s positional switch means a return to the starting team for Lood de Jager, who sat out the Barbarians fixture because of a one match suspension.

In the front row, hooker Adriaan Strauss returns to action and he takes over the captaincy from Patrick Lambie who led the side at Wembley. Vincent Koch will play at tighthead prop and Lourens Adriaanse moves to the bench.

The halfback combination of Paige and Lambie are kept unchanged. Wing JP Pietersen returns to the side and will wear the No 11 jersey, the position he usually plays for his club side, the Leicester Tigers.

Bryan has shown significant improvement this week, however he is not yet 100% ready and SA Rugby doesn’t want to risk him with two more Tests to come on this tour.

Ruan Combrinck will do duty on the right wing, and Willie le Roux at fullback, which means a return to the back three that played in the three Test series against Ireland in June.

Coetzee said the number of injuries, and to players in specific positions, gave him the opportunity to test certain new combinations.

“We are going to use this tour also to test various combinations and rotate players to ensure we move in the right direction,” said Coetzee.

“The challenge this week will definitely start up front as the English pack paved the way for their series win over the Wallabies in Australia. It will be a physical challenge and the set-piece battle could prove to be the decisive.

“I believe we have selected the best available team for this Saturday. We have a long list of injured loose forwards, with all of Roelof Smit, Marcell Coetzee, Francois Louw, Jaco Kriel, Siya Kolisi and Sikumbuzo Notshe injured, while a couple are also unavailable for selection,” explained Coetzee.

Coetzee said a daunting task awaits his side on Saturday at Twickenham: “England have a lot of belief at the moment – they have won their last nine matches since the appointment of Eddie Jones as coach (the same man who coached Japan to an unforgettable victory against South Africa at the Rugby World Cup in England last year.)

“They are always formidable at Twickenham and matches involving our two countries have always delivered close fought encounters. They are an extremely well-coached side with no apparent weaknesses and their away series win in Australia proved why they are currently second in the world rankings.

“They are definite favourites, but we are looking forward to another huge battle against them,” said Coetzee.

Former Springbok centre Hennie le Roux told BBC Radio 5 that although it’s been 10 years since England beat SA, due to factors like the turmoil in SA rugby and alleged lack of respect from players to coaches, the Springboks are “ripe for the taking”.

Captain Strauss will lead the Springboks for the tenth consecutive Test match, while lock Eben Etzebeth will play in his 31st consecutive Test for the Springboks.

The Springbok team to face England at Twickenham:

15. Willie le Roux (Canon Eagles (Japan)), 39 caps, 45 points
14. Ruan Combrinck (Xerox Golden Lions), 4 caps, 13 points
13. Francois Venter (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), uncapped
12. Damian de Allende (DHL Western Province), 20 caps, 10 points
11. JP Pietersen (Leicester Tigers (England)), 69 caps, 120 points
10. Patrick Lambie (vice-captain) (Cell C Sharks), 53 caps, 137 points
9. Rudy Paige (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 5 caps, 0 points
8. Warren Whiteley (Docomo Red Hurricanes (Japan)), 12 caps, 15 points
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Western Province), 17 caps, 15 points
6. Willem Alberts (Stade Francais (France)), 41 caps, 35 points
5. Lood de Jager (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 25 caps, 20 points
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Western Province), 53 caps, 10 points
3. Vincent Koch (Saracens (England)), 7 caps, 0 points
2. Adriaan Strauss (captain) (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 63 caps, 30 points
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), 84 caps, 10 points


16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Western Province), 3 caps, 0 points
17. Steven Kitshoff (Bordeaux (France)), 7 caps, 0 points
18. Lourens Adriaanse (Cell C Sharks), 4 caps, 0 points
19. Franco Mostert (Ricoh Black Rams (Japan)), 4 caps, 0 points
20. Nizaam Carr (DHL Western Province), 2 caps, 0 points
21. Faf de Klerk (Xerox Golden Lions), 8 caps, 0 points
22. Johan Goosen (Racing 92 (France)), 10 caps, 20 points
23. Lionel Mapoe (Kubota Spears (Japan)), 9 caps, 0 points

Stats and facts:

Head to head:

• England and South Africa will play in their 38th Test match since 1906. South Africa won 23, lost 12 while two matches were drawn for a win percentage of 62%.

• The last time that England won a Test match against South Africa was 10 years ago. John Smit’s Springboks lost narrowly at Twickenham on 18 November, 2006 with the score 23-21. Since that day, South Africa and England clashed in 12 Test matches in which the Springboks were unbeaten with 11 wins and one drawn.

• South Africa’s complete record against England is: P: 37; W: 23; L: 12; D: 2; PF: 780; PA: 592; TF: 72; TA: 42; Percentage won: 62%; Average score: 21-16.