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JOHANNESBURG — The announcement that the Springboks will play Wales in Washington DC brings back memories of the first time the Boks ever played on American soil. The occasion was the one-off Test against the USA at Owl Creek polo field in Glenwood, New York on 25 September 1981. It was surely the most bizarre Test ever played by a Springbok team. To avoid anti-apartheid protesters, great secrecy surrounded the match. Not even the non-playing members of the South African team nor the travelling South African journalists were aware that it was taking place. The posts were still being erected when the captains prepared for the toss and Thys Burger, a replacement loose forward, added some weight to the ropes. He also volunteered to run one of the lines due a shortage of linesmen, but had to replace Theuns Stofberg to win his third Test cap. He scored a try in South Africa’s 38-7 victory. Ray Mordt scored a second successive Test hat-trick in the eight try rout. The match was played in front of 50 spectators, on a field littered with horse dung and which sloped three metres from tryline to tryline. The match against Wales will be played in less bizarre circumstances. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
The Springboks will kick off their 2018 international season on an historic note when they face Wales in a once-off Test in Washington DC in the USA on Saturday 2 June.
This momentous match – the first time the Boks will face Tier One opposition on neutral ground outside the Rugby World Cup – was confirmed by event hosts, Rugby International Marketing (RIM), the commercial arm of USA Rugby, on Monday. Kick-off is scheduled for 17h00 (23h00 SA time) in the Robert F. Kennedy Stadium (RFK) in Washington DC.
It will be the 34rd Test between South Africa and Wales, with the Springboks having won 28 Tests, lost four while one encounter ended in a draw, for a winning rate of 85%. Wales won the last two Tests between these teams, both in Cardiff.
The match – the first between two top tier teams in the U.S. capital – was announced on Monday at a special ceremony at the South African Embassy in Washington DC. The South African Ambassador to the United States, Mr Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, and the First Minister of Wales, Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones AM, were in attendance.
Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, said the Springboks were delighted to play against Wales on US soil. It will be the Boks’ first visit to that country since December 2001, when they beat the USA Eagles, 43-20, in Houston.
“The match in Washington allows us to take Springbok rugby to America and to potentially expand the team’s appeal to very large audience,” said Roux.
“Our research shows that the Springboks have a growing worldwide fan base and we see the match in Washington as ideal platform to tap into a market that offers huge possibilities for South African rugby, in the exciting American sporting area.
— Dallen Stanford 🎙️ (@TheRugbyCorner) February 27, 2018
“We are also grateful to the Wales Rugby Union for their efforts in making this match a reality and it will get a very challenging international season off to a great start.”
David Sternberg, CEO of Rugby International Marketing (RIM), the local events organizing committee, said: “We are very pleased to be hosting this signature event in the nation’s capital in June.
“Not only are we bringing two established rugby nations together for an amazing match, we are also activating a large and passionate regional rugby community and accelerating the growth of the sport’s popularity in America as we head into the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July.”
The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, commonly known as RFK Stadium and originally named District of Columbia Stadium, is a multi-purpose stadium in Washington, DC, located near the well-known the U.S. Capitol building. The stadium has a seating capacity of 45 000.
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