Skip to main content
England v South Africa

Can England defeat the Springboks?

Can England defeat the Springboks?

Meet the players who will shape this summer’s epic Test series on Sky Sports Action

Three crunch matches await Eddie Jones’ England as they head into the rugby heartland of South Africa

South Africa v England, from Saturday 9 June, 3pm, Sky Sports Action/HD (CH 517/507)

Your sensational sporting summer is about to get a whole lot rowdier, as England look to rebuild after the 6 Nations with a titanic three-Test series against the Springboks live on Sky Sports.


The Red Rose can gain some much-needed momentum ahead of next year’s World Cup by seeing off one of the sport’s powerhouses on their own patch. But it won’t be a scrum in the park against a team they’ve struggle to dominate away from home.

England have only won three times in 13 attempts when they’ve squared off against the Springboks in South Africa, with their last triumph coming 18 years ago.


Meanwhile their opponents have their own rebuilding to do on the international stage, having fallen down to sixth place in the world rankings. New coach Rassie Erasmus has plenty of work to do in lifting the team back to where they feel they belong.


Can the Erasmus era get off to a flying start, or will England have a summer to remember? With the first Test fast approaching, we’ve picked out the key players from each team that you need to know about…


Danny Cipriani

Danny Cipriani playing rugby for Wasps

The headline grabber – on and off the field. Long overlooked by Eddie Jones for being all style and no substance, the fly-half has dazzled this season for high-flying Wasps and shown a maturity that’s earned him his first call-up since 2015. If he gets game time, expect fireworks from a player who will be plying his trade at Gloucester next term.


Brad Shields

The other big talking point, mainly because Shields has never played in England. Regardless, the New Zealand-born Hurricanes captain qualifies through his parents and will be playing for Wasps next season. Persistent chatter around his eligibility aside, the back row forward is a fearsome leader and has been picked on the basis of impressive form and unrivalled fitness.


Owen Farrell

England’s captain for the tour, thanks to Dylan Hartley’s enforced absence, is under pressure to lead his country to victory in South Africa. But what he lacks in physical stature, he more than makes up for with Lancashire grit. The beating heart and snarling face of Eddie Jones’ England side.


Billy Vunipola

Billy Vunipola playing rugby for England

Big Billy is back – and boy have England missed him. The barnstorming number eight missed a Lions tour of New Zealand, the entire 6 Nations and bulk of the Premiership season through injury. He’ll be desperate to channel that hurt – and 12 months’ worth of pent-up aggression – into any and every oncoming foe in South Africa. Springboks, you have been warned.


Elliot Daly

A thoroughbred rugby player and the one shining light in a disappointing 6 Nations campaign for the Red Rose. Whether on the wing, in the centre or at full-back, the Wasps trickster makes things happen and can strike a penalty from his own 10-metre line. That’s far. Really, really far.


South Africa

Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth playing rugby for South Africa

Eben Etzebeth is no ordinary rugby player. It’s said he had 75kg dumbbells purpose-built for him because the regular gym weights were too meagre. Freakishly big, strong and scary, he’s racing to recover from a long-term shoulder injury. Assuming he’s fit he’ll captain the Boks – good luck winning so much as the coin toss against him.


Faf de Klerk

The livewire Sale Sharks scrum-half has shone in Greater Manchester this season, setting a tempo that demands all-action attacking rugby. If given the nod he could be the man that provides the spark for South Africa’s revitalisation.


Handré Pollard

The 2014 World Rugby Junior Player of the Year has never quite lived up to the hype – yet. Vying with the exciting but erratic Elton Jantjies for the pivotal number ten jersey, he’ll know it’s high time he fulfilled his enormous potential when England come to town.


Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux playing rugby for South Africa

One of the Aviva Premiership players of the season, the Wasps full-back topped the league’s assist table with 21, seven clear of the trailing pack. England must keep him at bay if they want to give themselves a chance of winning this series.


Steven Kitshoff

The Stormers prop is destined to catch your attention, with his shock of fiery red hair and that name (we defy you not to giggle every time “Kits-off” is name-checked by the commentators). He’s also an effective scrummager and all-round wrecking ball.


Watch on the go

Virgin TV customers who subscribe to Sky Sports can watch on the Sky Sports app, anywhere in the UK with a WiFi or mobile data connection. Not only will you be able to take your Sky packages with you, but you get in-depth sports coverage, as well as exclusive videos and interviews. And, also on iPad, you can access extra features, including Sky Sports’ cutting-edge second-screen functions. Download from the Apple app store for iPad or iPhone, or from Google Play.


Upgrade to Sky Sports now

Don’t have Sky Sports? You can find out about our Sky Sports package and upgrade here.

You might also like

Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package.

TV channels: Channel line-ups are subject to change and regional variations. TV packs currently exclude some teletext services.

HD: HD TV required to view HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.

Sky Sports: You must subscribe to Sky Sports in SD to take these channels in HD. Sky Sports News HD not included. Content available to view depends on TV package.

Sky Sports available as an add-on for an additional monthly charge if not included in your package. Premium channels must be kept for at least 30 days.

Sky Sports app: Only available via the Sky Sports app (selected iOS and Android devices only) or website to customers who subscribe to these channels. Separate End User Licence Agreements and terms and conditions apply to the Sky Sports app and website. Selected content may not be available to view. Live streaming and On Demand available in UK with broadband, WiFi or 3G/4G only. Minimum 800 kbps recommended per device accessing the service. Maximum of 2 devices.