Six classic Cook Cup matches
Ahead of England’s three-test tour of Australia this July, we take a look back at some classic Cook Cup encounters.
Feature · 3 min read
All the dates, venues, squad news, key stats and much more as Wayne Pivac’s team prepare to take on the mighty Springboks
A successful series in South Africa would be the perfect tonic for a Wales side that finished in a disappointing fifth place in the Guinness Six Nations.
What success looks like depends on who you are talking to, but one thing is irrefutable – the size of the task is huge.
Wales and South Africa have faced each other 37 times to date with the first encounter taking place in Swansea in 1906.
The two sides’ last fixture was during the 2021 Autumn Nations Series where Wales were narrowly defeated 23-18 at Principality Stadium.
• Summer Tour 2022 •— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) May 18, 2022
Here's your squad for the upcoming South Africa Test Series captained by Dan Biggar.
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The iconic Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria will stage the opening test on Saturday 2 July. From there Wayne Pivac’s squad will head to the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on 9 July before rounding off the series at DHL Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday 16 July.
Only 116 years!
South Africa won 11-0 when the teams met for the very first time in St Helen’s, Swansea in 1906.
The first five tests were played on Welsh soil with Wales visiting South Africa for the first time in 1964.
The Springboks extended their winning run over Wales to six matches with what was a then-record 24-3 win at Kings Park in Durban.
Wales had to wait until 1999 before claiming their first victory over the Springboks, as the newly-opened Millennium Stadium hosted its first fixture
What made the 29-19 win all the more remarkable was the fact South Africa had beaten Wales 96-13 almost exactly a year before.
The South Africa v Wales fixture was also the first of the professional era, coming barely a couple of months after South Africa had lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 1995 in front of their own supporters.
South Africa won that historic game in Durban, 40-11.
From 1995 through to 2007 inclusive, Wales and South Africa never met each other at a Rugby World Cup. But they have played against each other in each of the last three tournaments at various stages of the competition, most recently in the 2019 semi-finals in Yokohama. South Africa came out on top, 19-16.
South Africa won the two previous Rugby World Cup encounters (17-16 at Rugby World Cup 2011 and 23-19 in the Rugby World Cup 2015 quarter-final).
With South Africa drawn in Pool B for Rugby World Cup 2023 and Wales in Pool C, the earliest the teams can meet at the next tournament is in the semi-finals.
It will be the first time Wales will have toured South Africa since 2014 when they were agonisingly denied a famous first test victory in the country after conceding a late penalty try,
Tries from Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert had put Wales in control in Nelspruit but two yellow cards halted their momentum and the Springboks came back to edge the contest 31-30.
Wales had not been behind in the game at the Mbombela Stadium until that moment, two minutes from time.
Wales have never beaten the Springboks in South Africa and trail in the overall head-to-head with only six wins to the Springboks’ 30, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a one-sided contest.
In recent times, the teams have been involved in some titanic struggles, with Wales winning four on the bounce (2016 to 2018) in between two narrow Rugby World Cup knockout defeats in England and Japan.
In fact, the winning margin has been in single figures in the last five meetings, with an average of just four points between the teams in that time.
Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Louis Rees-Zammit and Liam Williams were selected in the backs and Adam Beard, Talupe Faletau, Alun Wyn Jones, Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi and Ken Owens in the forwards.
Beard and Navidi were called up after injuries to Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric. Tipuric never made the plane but Jones, the tour captain, made a remarkable recovery from shoulder surgery to belatedly feature in South Africa.
The headline news surrounds the return to international duty of George North and Ospreys team-mate, Dan Lydiate.
Head coach Wayne Pivac has named two uncapped players in his squad in Leicester openside, Tommy Reffell, and Cardiff loose-forward James Ratti
Dan Biggar will continue to lead the team despite Alun Wyn Jones’ presence in the tour party.
South Africa are expected to name their squad at the end of this month.
Forwards (19): Rhys Carre (Cardiff Rugby – 16 caps), Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 43 caps), Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 10 caps), Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 27 caps), Dewi Lake (Ospreys – 5 caps), Sam Parry (Ospreys – 5 caps), Leon Brown (Dragons – 22 caps), Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 64 caps), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 38 caps), Adam Beard (Ospreys – 34 caps), Ben Carter (Dragons – 6 caps), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 150 caps), Will Rowlands (Dragons – 18 caps), Taine Basham (Dragons – 10 caps), Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby – 89 caps), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys – 65 caps), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby – 30 caps), James Ratti (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped), Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – uncapped).
Backs (14): Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 67 caps), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 11 caps), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 33 caps), Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 31 caps), Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 100 caps) Captain, Rhys Patchell (Scarlets – 21 caps), George North (Ospreys – 102 caps), Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 20 caps), Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 31 caps), Johnny Williams (Scarlets – 5 caps, Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 39 caps), Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 51 caps), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 16 caps), Liam Williams (Scarlets – 78 caps)
Players unavailable for selection due to injury: Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty, Christ Tshiunza, Aaron Wainwright, Uilisi Halaholo, Leigh Halfpenny, Johnny McNicholl.