Tomorrow’s much anticipated Rugby Championship test match between New Zealand and South Africa marks the 100th match between the two bitter rivals in world rugby. The two nations played their very first test in Dunedin back in 1921.
New Zealand will go into this encounter as overwhelming favourites given the current form of the two teams, and the head-to-head record between the two nations.
Due to the last COVID-19 disruptions, the 100th test will be played at an unlikely venue of Townsville in Queensland on Saturday. It was intended the occasion should be celebrated in Dunedin this year, but again the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the best-laid plans.
Other nations have played each other well over 100 times, but none have managed to provide the drama, controversy, and epic moments that the All Blacks and Springboks have given through their 100 years.
After suffering back-to-back losses to Australia, Siya Kolisi says his team must execute their plan better if they are to cause an upset against the All Blacks.
“It’s something that we have done before. We are not being asked to do something we’ve never done before. So, that’s why I’m saying it’s another test match and we are being asked to do something we’ve done before. A lot of the guys in the team have won against the All Blacks. Yes, those things do require confidence on them that’s why we work so hard.”
Before the 1981 series, South Africa recorded the highest number of wins with 19 victories to 13 for New Zealand with two drawn. But after 1981, New Zealand has recorded 46 victories, South Africa has won just 16, with two matches ending in a draw.
Kolisi says they cannot afford to disappoint the nation.
“We can’t lie about it. We know how important rugby is and every game to us is important. As a team, we’ve got our plans, our own system, our own goals, motivations. But as players, we know what people at home are expecting, what people at home want to see happen tomorrow and that’s the stuff we deal with.”
Since their first Rugby World Cup tournament in 1995, the Boks have won the Webb Ellis trophy three times. The two teams have met five times in the tournament since their first clash in the 1995 extra-time final. South Africa has won twice and New Zealand three times, the most recent being in their pool game at the 2019 event in Japan, where the All Blacks were the only side to beat the world champions.
The Freedom Cup will also be at stake between South Africa and New Zealand, according to Springbok assistant coach Mzandile Stick.
“Any opportunity we can get, you know, to win a silverware, we will take that offer, you know. So, it’s massive for us, more especially playing against the All Blacks – one of the best teams in the world. So, of course, the guys are up for the challenge and it would be great for us to win that trophy. More especially, as you guys back home are celebrating Heritage Day now. So, it would be really nice for us as a country, you know, to have some smiles on our faces. So that we can enjoy the braais with a good win over the All Blacks. So yes, of course, we wanna win this game and it would be great to win the trophy.”
Considering that the centenary match will be played in Australia, New Zealand enjoy a better success rate in that country.
The All Blacks have played 96 Tests in Australia winning 60 with six drawn, while South Africa has played 46 Tests with 16 wins and two draws.
Since the game went professional in 1996 New Zealand has won 41 Tests to 14 with one drawn.
🗣️ Siya Kolisi: “Hopefully we can give SA something to celebrate, especially with today being Heritage Day”
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— Springboks (@Springboks) September 24, 2021