SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX/ RYAN WILKISKY
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX/ RYAN WILKISKY

Fortress Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has been chosen to host back-to-back Springbok Tests against Argentina in the Rugby Championship during August.

The Boks have never been beaten at the venue in six outings, winning five games and drawing once at one of their favourite grounds.

When Argentina played the Boks at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in 2017, SA scored four tries in a comprehensive 37-15 win in front of 43,000 fans. This time, however, it is unlikely spectators will be allowed into the venue because of Covid-19 protocols.

“Unfortunately, there is little prospect that spectators will be allowed to attend matches, but we are pleased to be returning to the Eastern Cape for these important Tests,” SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said.

The Boks will be returning to the Bay stadium for the first time since 2018 in the opening two Tests of their 2021 Rugby Championship campaign. The games will be played after the British & Irish Lions series on August 14 and 21.

“We are very grateful to Argentina for having agreed to play their home match against the Boks in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship here in SA,” Roux said. “They mark our return to the championship, and we’re excited to resume competition with Argentina, Australia and New Zealand after missing out in 2020, when we were due to defend the title.”

Mayor Nqaba Bhanga said: “Nelson Mandela Bay is proud to host the Springboks and Argentina for these matches. As a metro we are fast becoming known as a sporting destination of choice.

“We have in recent months hosted many incident-free sports fixtures at our world-class Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and look forward to doing so again.”

Roux said the reason for playing a double header in Gqeberha was to reduce Covid-19 related risks. “Because of all the health and safety and logistical considerations that come with Covid-19, we decided to minimise the risks and reduce the logistical challenges by playing both Tests in one city and venue,” Roux said.

After the two Tests in Nelson Mandela Bay, the Boks are set to depart to Australia for two clashes with the Wallabies, in Sydney and Brisbane, before transferring to New Zealand for four consecutive weekends in September and October to face the All Blacks in Dunedin and Auckland.

Due to the latest travel restrictions put in place by the New Zealand government, Sanzaar announced last Friday that it was reviewing options for the match schedule for the Rugby Championship.

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