Eddie Jones
Jones is bidding to lead England through an unbeaten calendar year for the first time for 24 years. Getty Images

England kick-off their autumn campaign looking to end a 12-match winless run against South Africa and remain unbeaten in 2016 when the pair clash on Saturday, 12 November. The Springboks are reeling after a disappointing Rugby Championship but Allister Coetzee will be aiming to bring stability to a tough transition with a sixth straight win at Twickenham.

Where to watch

England vs South Africa kicks off at 2:30pm GMT and is live on Sky Sports 1HD. BBC Radio Five Live will provide live commentary, with highlights available on BBC 2 HD from 7:30pm GMT.


England will begin attempts to end the year unbeaten for the first time in 24 years when they face South Africa in the first of four autumn internationals at Twickenham. Eddie Jones' side claimed the grand slam and then whitewashed Australia down under but have not defeated the Springboks for 10 years.

Furthermore, the hosts have never finished an autumn series with four victories but in the absence of world champions New Zealand take on four teams spiralling towards their lowest ebb. Allister Coetzee's side endured a nightmare Rugby Championship and their difficult transition from finishing third at the Rugby World Cup continued as they drew with the Barbarians at Wembley last weekend.

Jamie George
England claimed their first ever whitewash over Australia in the summer. SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

The visitors can at least take solace from an England injury list which sees many of the players who have underpinned their 100% record under Jones missing. Among them is Saracens lock pairing Maro Itoje and George Kruis, wingers Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell as well as battering ram James Haskell.

Such a raft of absences have opened the door to players who defined Stuart Lancaster's era in charge. Courtney Lawes will start the game in the second row, Tom Wood in the back row, while Marland Yarde and Jonny May are on either wing. Jones will be hopeful that while his team may be plucked from Lancaster's era, that the results against the southern hemisphere heavyweights do not mirror it.

Lancaster won just three times in 15 games against the All Blacks, the Wallabies and South Africa, but Jones' task of ending 2016 with 13 wins from as many matches is helped by the woeful state the latter two arrive in the northern hemisphere. South Africa have undergone a mass overhaul since the World Cup a year ago and will present a weak challenge at Twickenham.

Maro Itoje
Itoje is one of ten players missing through injury for England. Getty

Coetzee's side claimed two wins from six during the tournament and thanks to several injuries and a lack of confidence are playing damage limitation this autumn. South Africa are without a host of loose and back-row forwards, but have added power and weight to a pack – an area of the game which will be crucial if the away side have any ambition of causing what would be considered an upset.

The sight of Jones leading the opposition will of course spark memories last year, when the Australian's Japan side caused the biggest shock in World Cup history in Brighton, beating the 1995 and 2007 champions with a last gasp try on the south coast. This weekend is not likely to be as close yet South Africa will relish the role as underdogs.


England: 15. Mike Brown, 14. Marland Yarde, 13. Elliot Daly, 12. Owen Farrell, 11. Jonny May, 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs, 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Joe Launchbury, 5. Courtney Lawes, 6. Chris Robshaw, 7. Tom Wood, 8. Billy Vunipola

Bryan Habana
Habana misses the game through injury, leaving South Africa lightweight in wide positions. Getty Images

Replacements: 16. Jamie George, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Dave Attwood, 20. Nathan Hughes, 21. Danny Care, 22. Ben Te'o, 23. Jonathan Joseph

South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Francois Venter, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Rudy Paige; 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6. Willem Alberts, 5. Lood de Jager, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Vincent Koch, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Franco Mostert (Ricoh Black Rams, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Faf de Klerk, 22. Johan Goosen, 23. Lionel Mapoe.

What the coaches say:

Eddie Jones: "When you lose good players there are gaps to fill," he said. "We have got to fill those gaps and if the preparation is good enough and the players are good enough – which I know they are – then we will fill those gaps and be ready to go again. And if we are not, which can happen, then we have got to look at how we have prepared and look at the players selected and see if we can do better.

Allister Coetzee
Coetzee is overseeing a rough transition since the World Cup. Getty Images

"History plays a part in influencing psychological attitudes in Test matches. Obviously it hasn't been right over a period of time and we need to get it right against South Africa because they are going to bring something different to the table and we know what that is. It is going to be full-on, physical pressure and we have to meet that and play good rugby." And of what is in store for the players in training in Portugal this week.

Allister Coetzee: "We are definitely underdogs this week. We are playing against the second best team in the world on a long winning streak. They did extremely well in Australia and reading the reports they are looking forward to facing us. They are a strong team.

"Our preparations for this game started in earnest on Sunday night when all the players arrived from their various clubs. We felt we had the full Springbok team together again. At training you could see the guys that have played at a high level before and all it took was a few tweaks and adjustments for them to fit in. Players came in with different mind-sets as some came from the Japanese league and some from Europe. It is challenging but they have all bought in to what we are trying to achieve on this tour."