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Springboks to face All Blacks twice before Rugby World Cup

New Zealand centre Rieko Ioane (C) is surrounded by South Africans during an August 2022 Test in Johannesburg, which the tourists won.. ©AFP

Johannesburg (AFP) - Defending champions South Africa will confront greatest rivals New Zealand twice in the build-up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

The Springboks and All Blacks are set to clash in the Rugby Championship southern hemisphere tournament on July 15 in New Zealand.

They will meet again at Twickenham in London on August 25 in the final warm-up for both nations before the World Cup kicks off in France on September 8.

The sides would face each other at the quarter-finals stage of the World Cup if one of them wins a pool and the other finishes second in theirs.

South Africa and New Zealand share the record for World Cup titles with three each while Australia have been champions twice and England once

Last year, a rivalry that began in 1921 continued with two dramatic Tests.South Africa hosted both and won 26-10 in Mbombela before a late collapse led to a 35-23 loss in Johannesburg.

Although the South African Rugby Union have not released a 2023 itinerary, AFP understands that the Springboks will play six Tests before arriving in France.

They launch their campaign in the Rugby Championship -- reduced from two rounds to one because of the World Cup -- at home to Australia on July 8.

After tackling New Zealand, South Africa will host Argentina in the final round of the Championship on July 29.

On August 5 they face the Pumas again, this time in Buenos Aires, before further World Cup warm-ups against Wales in Cardiff on August 19 and New Zealand six days later.

Seeking to emulate New Zealand and become the second nation to win successive World Cup tournaments, South Africa had a mixed 2022 season, winning eight Tests and losing five.

Highlights included the Mbombela victory over New Zealand, ending a long run of losses in Australia with a convincing win in Sydney, and an end-of-season triumph over England in London.

But an inconsistent team fell at home to Wales for the first time and were flattered to lose by only eight points against Australia in Adelaide after a woeful performance.

On a tour of Europe last November, the Springboks lost narrowly to Ireland and France, two of the favourites to become world champions this year. 

South Africa are in Pool B at the World Cup with Ireland, currently the top ranked team, Scotland, Tonga and Romania, and the sides coming first and second advance to the knockout phase.

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