Springbok lock Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement from international rugby late last year, will head up a strong group of Test icons for the match between South Africa and a World XV at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday, July 11. Botha is one of nine Toulon players who will line up against the Springboks. The giants from the south of France recently won their third consecutive European club title.
Toulon coach Bernard Laporte, who was previously in charge of the French national team, will assist former Wallaby and Crusaders coach Robbie Deans with the World XV. Botha’s Toulon team-mates who have been confirmed for the World XV are Delon Armitage (fullback), David Smith (wing), Rudi Wulf (centre), Maxime Mermoz (centre), Steffon Armitage (loose forward), Ali Williams (lock), Craig Burden (hooker) and Alexandre Menini (prop). Added to this list are Springbok and Bulls centre JJ Engelbrecht, Wallaby scrumhalf Luke Burgess and France flyhalf Maxime Machenaud.
The World XV will be captained by Louis-Benoit Madaule, who plays on the flank for French club Bordeaux Begles. Bok coach Heyneke Meyer says: ‘With the core of the World XV side coming from Toulon, and having already played together twice as the Barbarians against Ireland and England under Robbie Deans, they will arrive in South Africa a well-oiled machine and won’t need a lot of time to find their feet. Like last year, this match will be a superb way to start our season and looking at the names they’ve assembled, especially with all the experienced Test players from Toulon in their pack it certainly will provide us with a proper test in Cape Town. There is also still a chance that we could have a team in the Vodacom Super Rugby final, which is only a week before this match and it would have a major impact on our preparations. It is obviously not ideal for us with Bakkies, JJ and Craig there, as they will have good knowledge of how we play and we’ll have to make some adjustments, but that is what international rugby is all about and I certainly can’t wait for the Boks’ season to start.’ More names will be added to the current 13 confirmed World XV players in due course.