Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer


Ireland privileged to be able to play Springboks in SA – Andy Farrell

'Their record speaks for itself really. So how can you not have respect?' said the Irish coach ahead of the two Test series.


Ireland coach Andy Farrell says that it is a privilege for them to be able to tour South Africa and play against the Springboks on their home turf, ahead of the opening game of the two-Test series kicking off at Loftus on Saturday (5pm).

It is the first time since 2016 that the Irish have toured the country, while the two sides have only played against each other twice in the past six years.

After Ireland’s 2016 tour and the clash between the two sides in Dublin in 2017, there was a four-year period where they didn’t face each other, until they met again in Dublin in 2022 and then in the World Cup pool stage in France in 2023.

‘Privilege to feel the Bok passion’

“It’s funny because when the games come around everyone talks about the rivalry. But we haven’t played (each other) much at all,” said Farrell.

“We have always said that the more that we play the top teams the better it is for us, win or lose, and we tend to only get the consistency of that through the Autumn (end-of-year) series which is normally a one game wonder.

“So to be able to come over here and see how passionate the people are, why they love the Springboks so much and why the Springboks are so powerful to the people of South Africa, it really is a privilege for us to come over here and feel that.”

In total the Springboks and Ireland have only faced each other 28 times since meeting for the first time in 1906, with 17 of those games played in Ireland, 10 in SA and one at a neutral venue in France.

Of the 17 games in Ireland the Boks have won nine, lost seven and drawn one, while they lost at the Stade de France in Saint Denis last year.

On home soil the Boks have won nine times, with their sole defeat coming on the 2016 Irish tour when the visitors beat them 26-20 in the opening game in Cape Town, before the hosts bounced back with two wins to take the series 2-1.

Ireland will thus be looking to make history by winning a series in SA for the first time while the Boks will be aiming to preserve their strong record over them.

‘Extra special’

“You need the opportunity to be able to do that (make history). You need the opportunity to do special things. It would be extra special to compete and give a good show of ourselves, never mind win, against the world champions at home,” said Farrell.

In the build up to the massive series there has been a lot said in the media between the two sides, but Farrell was insistent that there is absolute respect between the two teams when it comes to the game.

“Of course there is (respect). We are all trying to do the same thing, win top level Test matches. We all understand the pressure that comes with that,” said Farrell.

“So from our point of view there is nothing but respect for what they have done and continue to achieve. Their record speaks for itself really. So how can you not have respect?”

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