IRFU confirm next year's summer tour games against Springboks
The IRFU have confirmed the details of Ireland's first tour of South Africa since 2004
Ireland have never won a Test match in South Africa and next June they will bid to bring an end to that miserable record. The team coached by Joe Schmidt will take on the Springboks who recently finished third at the World Cup, in a three Test series beginning on June 11 in Cape Town.
A week later (June 18) the two sides will meet in Johannesburg before rounding off the series in Port Elizabeth on June 25.
The last time Ireland travelled to South Africa 11-years ago, the hosts won the series 2-0 but since then, Ireland have won four of the six Test matches between the two nations - all of which have been played in Ireland.
The most recent meeting came last November when Ireland enjoyed a 29-10 victory.
Meanwhile, Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder has mounted a strong defence of English club rugby on the eve of tomorrow's Aviva Premiership title clash with Saracens.
England's dire World Cup performance is being reviewed by the Rugby Football Union and is expected to conclude later this month with the departure of Stuart Lancaster and his coaching assistants.
A total of 13 England internationals will start when Northampton and Saracens collide at Franklin's Gardens and Mallinder believes the gloom that has drifted from Twickenham to the Premiership is misplaced.
"You always have to review things and makes change and that is happening, but we don't need a root and branch review of the game," said Mallinder, whose team have lost two of their opening three matches.
Saracens chief Mark McCall believes it's time to look at the make-up of the season. "We need to spread the load as much as we can and try to be as competitive as possible in every game," said the former Ulster coach. "People have forgotten that the Premiership will run during the Six Nations, so that will be nine consecutive league matches."