18 April 2012 08:55

LONDON - England have added two midweek matches to their itinerary for the June tour of South Africa, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced on Tuesday.

England will play against the South Africa Barbarians South in Kimberley on June 13 and the South African Barbarians North in Potchefstroom on June 19 after opening their tour with the first of three tests in Durban on June 9.

The second test will be played in Johannesburg on June 16 and the tour concludes with the third test in Port Elizabeth on June 23.

The local midweek teams will be made up of players from the eight Currie Cup First Division sides, South Africa's second-tier of domestic rugby behind the Super franchises.

“"South Africa has not hosted a three-test tour against a single nation since New Zealand's visit in 1996, so this will be a special occasion for all of us," SARU chief executive Jurie Roux said in a statement.

“"The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has also agreed to two midweek matches, which gives us the opportunity to take international rugby away from the major metropolitan centres," he added.

Newly appointed England head coach Stuart Lancaster said he was looking forward to the rigours of an extended tour.

“"This will be a massive and exciting challenge for us," said Lancaster, who was promoted from his caretaker position last month after leading England to four wins from five matches in this year's Six Nations championship.

"England have never had a three-test series in South Africa and with two midweek games against opponents desperate to impress, these five games gives us a great opportunity for a wider group of players to put their hat in the ring and gain international experience." (Reuters)