2012 England rugby union tour of South Africa
Coach(es)Stuart Lancaster
Tour captain(s)Chris Robshaw
Top point scorer(s)Owen Farrell (35)
Top try scorer(s)Christian Wade (4)
Top test point scorer(s)Toby Flood (20)
Top test try scorer(s)Ben Youngs (2)
06 03 01 02
Test match
03 00 01 02
 South Africa
3 0 1 2
Tour chronology
Previous tourAustralasia 2010
Next tourArgentina 2013

In June 2012, the England national rugby union team went on a three-test tour against the South Africa national rugby union team, known colloquially and referred to hereafter as the Springboks. This was one of a series of mid-year tours in 2012 by northern teams to be hosted by southern hemisphere nations.

The series was among the first to mark a return to the format of traditional tours, after the International Rugby Board (IRB) decided in 2010 to revive the concept, which could include mid-week matches against representative or club sides.[1] This was first such tour since South Africa had hosted New Zealand in 1996.

England last toured South Africa in 2007 and played two test matches, losing both 58 – 10 and 55 – 22.[2] The last time the two sides met was in 2010 at Twickenham, when the Springboks won 21 – 11, marking their seventh straight win against England.[2] Leading up to this series, both nations had played each other 32 times. The Springboks had won 19 games, England 12, and one had been drawn.[2] England's last win against the Springboks was in 2006, when they won 23 – 21 at Twickenham. Their last victory in South Africa came in 2000, when they triumphed in Bloemfontein 27 – 22.

Tour fixture

Date and Time Home Result Away Venue
27 May 2012 14:30 BST England XV 57 –26 Barbarians Twickenham, London
9 June 2012 17:00 SAST  South Africa 22 – 17  England Kings Park Stadium, Durban
13 June 2012 14:30 SAST SA Barbarians South 26 – 54 England XV Griqua Park, Kimberley
16 June 2012 17:00 SAST  South Africa 36 – 27  England Ellis Park, Johannesburg
19 June 2012 19:10 SAST SA Barbarians North 31 – 57 England XV Olën Park, Potchefstroom
23 June 2012 17:00 SAST  South Africa 14–14  England Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth



On 10 May, England coach Stuart Lancaster announced his initial 42-man squad for the tour to South Africa consisting of 23 forwards and 19 backs. Thirteen uncapped players were included in the squad.[3]

Forwards: Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton Saints), Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints), Carl Fearns (Bath Rugby), Joe Gray (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Highlanders), Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Ben Morgan (Scarlets), Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors), Tom Palmer (Stade Français), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Chris Robshaw (captain, Harlequins), George Robson (Harlequins), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs: Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers), Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Alex Goode (Saracens), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish), George Lowe (Harlequins), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), David Strettle (Saracens), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Christian Wade (London Wasps), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

South Africa

On 2 June, new Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer announced his squad of 32 players for the series. Nine uncapped players were included in the squad.[9]

Forwards: Willem Alberts (Sharks), Marcell Coetzee (The Sharks), Keegan Daniel (The Sharks), Bismarck du Plessis (The Sharks), Jannie du Plessis (The Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Western Province), Ryan Kankowski (The Sharks), Juandré Kruger (Blue Bulls), Werner Kruger (Blue Bulls), Tendai Mtawarira (The Sharks), Coenie Oosthuizen (Free State Cheetahs), Jacques Potgieter (Blue Bulls), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Blue Bulls), Pierre Spies (Blue Bulls), Adriaan Strauss (Free State Cheetahs), Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls), Franco van der Merwe (Golden Lions)

Backs: Bjorn Basson (Blue Bulls), Jean de Villiers (Western Province), JJ Engelbrecht (Blue Bulls), Bryan Habana (Western Province), Francois Hougaard (Blue Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Golden Lions), Zane Kirchner (Blue Bulls), Patrick Lambie (Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (The Sharks), Wynand Olivier (Blue Bulls), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), JP Pietersen (The Sharks), François Steyn (The Sharks), Morné Steyn (Blue Bulls), Jano Vermaak (Blue Bulls)

Match reports

First Test – 9 June

For the match scorecard, see Week 3 of the 2012 mid-year test series: South Africa vs. England.

The First Test of the series was played at Kings Park Stadium in Durban. The event was a historic occasion, because it was the first time that England and South Africa had played each other in Durban;[10][16] England had played at Kings Park during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, but they did not face South Africa in the tournament. In the 27 test matches the Springboks had played there since 1962, they had won 16 matches, lost 8 and drawn 3.[10]

The Springboks named three uncapped players in the starting line-up: locks Eben Etzebeth and Juandré Kruger, and flanker Marcell Coetzee. Uncapped prop Coenie Oosthuizen was named on the bench.[10][17]

England selected two uncapped players to make their debut in the starting line-up: flanker Tom Johnson and prop Joe Marler. Uncapped back Jonathan Joseph was named on the bench.[18]

This then was how the teams lined up for the match:

South Africa
FB 15 Zane Kirchner
RW 14 JP Pietersen
OC 13 Jean de Villiers (c)
IC 12 Frans Steyn
LW 11 Bryan Habana
FH 10 Morné Steyn
SH 9 Francois Hougaard
N8 8 Pierre Spies
BF 7 Willem Alberts
OF 6 Marcell Coetzee
RL 5 Juandré Kruger
LL 4 Eben Etzebeth
TP 3 Jannie du Plessis
HK 2 Bismarck du Plessis
LP 1 Tendai Mtawarira
HK 16 Adriaan Strauss
PR 17 Coenie Oosthuizen
LK 18 Flip van der Merwe
FL 19 Keegan Daniel
SH 20 Ruan Pienaar
FB 21 Patrick Lambie
WG 22 Wynand Olivier
Heyneke Meyer
FB 15 Mike Brown
RW 14 Chris Ashton
OC 13 Manu Tuilagi
IC 12 Brad Barritt
LW 11 Ben Foden
FH 10 Owen Farrell
SH 9 Ben Youngs
N8 8 Ben Morgan
OF 7 Chris Robshaw (c)
BF 6 Tom Johnson
RL 5 Geoff Parling
LL 4 Mouritz Botha
TP 3 Dan Cole
HK 2 Dylan Hartley
LP 1 Joe Marler
HK 16 Lee Mears
PR 17 Paul Doran-Jones
LK 18 Tom Palmer
N8 19 Phil Dowson
SH 20 Lee Dickson
FH 21 Toby Flood
FB 22 Jonathan Joseph
Stuart Lancaster

First half

There was heavy rain in Durban which eased before kick-off, as well as a blustery wind.[19] As expected, both sides went in hard early. England looked composed enough, managing to repel a Springbok line-out from inside their 22 after they failed to handle Morné Steyn's kick-off. But a box kick from Youngs carried too far and ended up in the hands of speedy wing Habana, who slipped several tackles before being finally brought down on halfway.[20] That moment aside, England's determination paid off when, six minutes in, the debutant Etzebeth was penalised for not rolling away after the tackle. Farrell converted the 40-metre penalty goal to open the scoring, 3 – 0. The home side finally came to life ten minutes into the match, and with 14 minutes gone on the clock, Morné Steyn levelled the scores from point-blank range 3 – 3 when England was penalised for being offside after some strong running by Sharks flanker Alberts.[21][22] England continued to resist attack after attack from the Springboks, especially when, at the 20-minute mark, Hougaard found space in attack and passed to Spies, who was tackled by Tuilagi just inches short of the tryline.

Finally, in a rare foray forward, Johnson, who impressed many observers on debut with his work rate, drew the defence before he passed to the number eight Morgan, who powered his way through South Africa's defence.[23] Coetzee interfered illegally for the Springboks, and Farrell converted the subsequent penalty to regain the lead for England 6 – 3 at the 27-minute mark of the match.[19] South Africa replied swiftly after England was again penalised for being offside. Steyn converted the penalty to again level the scores 6 – 6.[19][23]

Habana then injured himself when he chased a high kick from Morne Steyn and collided with England fullback Brown. A big chance for England went begging when Youngs found Ashton in midfield, who sidestepped Kirchner and took the ball up 30 metres only to spill it as he was brought down from behind by Hougaard.[24] A series of deep kicks ensued as both sides tried to establish territory. In the final minute of the half, Johnson was penalised for using his hands in a scrum, but Steyn's penalty attempt drifted wide to leave the teams even at 6 – 6 at half time.[23]

Second half

The Springboks made two changes to their team during the break. Habana came back on and Lambie replaced Kirchner, who was suffering from a knee problem serious enough to rule him out of the next test.[13] England made no changes. England made a promising start after Youngs found a gap in the Springbok defence.[23] But South Africa struck the first blow when Morné Steyn dotted down in the right corner in the 47th minute after he had been involved in the attacking build-up that featured a storming run by Jannie du Plessis.[24] Steyn's conversion attempt was just wide, so the score remained 11 – 6.

The Springboks wasted a chance to score again several minutes later. After they were awarded a penalty deep in England's 22, Hougaard chose to tap and go instead of letting M. Steyn take the kick for a penalty goal. The English then managed to turn the ball over.[19] Flood was brought on to replace Barritt, who sustained an eye injury. There was a minor flare-up on the touchline between De Villiers and Farrell, but that was quickly sorted out by the officials.[23][24]

Hougaard was replaced by Pienaar. Habana showed he was suffering no ill-effects from his first half injury, twice nearly getting through England's defence. The Springboks finally broke through again when they so severely disrupted an England scrum that Youngs was forced to clear under pressure. Habana caught the ball and ran it straight back.[23] From the resultant ruck, the Springboks quickly spread the ball wide for captain De Villiers to cut inside and touch down in the right corner, making the score 16 – 6. But again, Steyn missed the conversion attempt, this time spraying it across the posts.

Lancaster replaced Morgan with Dowson, and England's reply was almost immediate. The Springboks misjudged the kick-off, which allowed Foden to intercept the ball and race towards the tryline. Again, the Springboks managed to scramble and again, Habana hurt himself, this time colliding with Frans Steyn.[19][23] Referee Walsh penalised the Springboks for offside and Farrell slotted the penalty to take the score to 16 – 9.

But England was not finished yet. Barely two minutes later, England captain Robshaw managed to isolate Pietersen in a ruck and win a penalty for his team. Farrell duly converted and suddenly, with the score 16 – 12 with less than 15 minutes to go, the game was again up for grabs.[23]

Strauss came on for Bismarck du Plessis at hooker, and had an immediate impact. The Springboks seized back the momentum and swept forward, with Strauss, Pienaar and Coetzee prominent. Tuilagi was penalised for offside and Steyn, after three consecutive misses, nailed the penalty to restore the seven-point gap. The score was now 19 – 12 with ten minutes remaining.[19][23]

Both sides made changes: for England, Dickson came on for Youngs; for South Africa, Daniel replaced Coetzee. England tried to create chances, most notably when Tuilagi again bumped De Villiers off whilst going forward. But there was no support and he was penalised for continuing to play the ball after being brought to ground.[24]

The killer blow for England came when they had a scrum feed in their half at the 75-minute mark. The Springbok forwards timed their shove perfectly, causing England to buckle under pressure and thus earning a scrum feed. On the resultant scrum, Doran-Jones, who was just brought on for Marler, was penalised for collapsing the scrum.[23] Steyn converted the penalty to put the game, with the score 22 – 12 and only two minutes remaining, virtually out of England's reach.

Nevertheless, England continued to fight. Joseph was brought on for Brown and, despite the limited game time, was involved in the movement which led to the try that England needed when Foden scored in the corner. However, it was too little too late. Farrell's attempted conversion after the hooter sailed wide.[19][24] So the final score was 22 – 17. The Springboks had drawn first blood and led the series one-nil.

Second Test – 16 June

For the match scorecard, see Week 4 of the 2012 mid-year test series: South Africa vs. England.

The Second Test was played at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. This would be the third time that England and South Africa had played each other at the venue.[25] The previous occasion the two sides had met at Ellis Park was back in 1984 when the Springboks won 35 – 9 courtesy of a hat-trick to Danie Gerber.[25] However, England had claimed one of their few precious wins in South Africa at this venue back in 1972, when they won 18 – 9.[25] In the 43 test matches the Springboks had played at Ellis Park since 1928, they had won 30 matches, lost 11 and drawn 2.

The Springboks made three changes to their match squad: Patrick Lambie replaced the injured Kirchner at fullback, and Bjorn Basson was called up to fill the vacant replacement spot. Werner Kruger was also called up to cover for the injured Coenie Oosthuizen.[25]

England made more changes to the starting XV, some of the changes forced due to injury. Most of the changes occurred in the backline; Ben Foden replaced the injured Mike Brown at fullback, and Jonathan Joseph was given his first Test start after Brad Barritt was sidelined with a lacerated eyeball.[25] This also meant that Manu Tuilagi was shifted from outside centre to inside centre to accommodate Joseph at number 13. Foden's shift to fullback meant David Strettle was handed a starting berth on the wing. Toby Flood replaced Owen Farrell at fly-half. Up front the only change was the inclusion of Thomas Waldrom after Phil Dowson was sent home with a hamstring injury.[25]

The line-ups for both teams were then as follows:

See also


  1. ^ "IRB paves way for return to traditional tours". IRB.com. 17 May 2010. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "England out to end losing run". ESPN Scrum. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Danny Care returns as England squad for South Africa tour announced". The Independent. 10 May 2010. Archived from the original on 1 May 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  4. ^ "England's Matt Stevens to miss South Africa tour with injury". BBC Sport. 29 May 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  5. ^ "Injury ends Launchbury's SA tour". ESPN Scrum. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Abendanon gets call-up following Brown blow". ESPN Scrum. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Jonny May drafted into England squad". ESPN Scrum. 16 June 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  8. ^ "England suffer Youngs injury blow". ESPN Scrum. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  9. ^ "Springbok squad for Castle Incoming Tour against England announced". SA Rugby. 2 June 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d "Etzebeth, Kruger and Coetzee to debut for South Africa". SA Rugby. 6 June 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Jean de Villiers named Springbok captain". SA Rugby. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Springboks call up Aplon and Greyling". SA Rugby. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  13. ^ a b "Oosthuizen ruled out of Test series". ESPN Scrum. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Springbok Medical Update from Port Elizabeth". SA Rugby. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Joe Pietersen called up to Springbok squad". SA Rugby. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  16. ^ "New look Boks out to tame fresh-faced England". ESPN Scrum. 8 June 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  17. ^ "Eben Etzebeth, Juandré Kruger & Marcell Coetzee get first caps". BBC Sport. 6 June 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  18. ^ "South Africa v England: Johnson and Marler make debuts". BBC Sport. 7 June 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g "South Africa 22 England 17 – LIVE from Planet Rugby". Planet Rugby. 9 June 2012. Archived from the original on 13 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  20. ^ "Springboks outmuscle England in Durban". ESPN Scrum. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  21. ^ "First blood to South Africa". Planet Rugby. 9 June 2012. Archived from the original on 18 November 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  22. ^ "South Africa 22–17 England". BBC Sport. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "South Africa v England: live". The Telegraph. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Summer Tests as they happened". BBC Sport. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  25. ^ a b c d e f "England look to emulate the Lions' spirit". ESPN Scrum. 12 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2012.