South Africans have always regarded the All Blacks as the traditional foe

We as South Africans have always regarded the All Blacks as our traditional foe, and that goes back to 1921 when the countries first played a Test, at that most inhospitable domain of Dunedin, correctly called the Edinburgh of the South, although many a South African who has visited that dull city would suggest it gets warmer in Scotland in winter.

The Boks lost that first game but then went on to dominate the Kiwis for almost a century, and the first time the All Blacks recorded a series win in South Africa was in 1996.

Incidentally, prior to the dawn of the professional era, in 1996, the Boks had beaten the All Blacks 20 times and lost just 15 Tests, to make them the best team of the amateur era. The All Blacks can never take that away from the Springboks!

But my how times have changed. Yes we would love our series win over the New Zealand Cavaliers in 1986 to be in their record books, which would have made it 22-16 in the overall series, but in the modern era the Kiwis have run away with the rivalry. They have just been too good and South African rugby’s decade long period in the international wilderness took a serious toll that few of us realised at the time. We were all adamant that in 1992, when we came out of isolation and fittingly played the All Blacks, that we would immediately assume our mantle as the world’s best rugby team.

We painfully know that it did not happen, and we accept that the 1995 Rugby World Cup final win was a quirk of fate, a one-off that went beyond the realms of rugby and was swept up in something special that was beyond the norms of ordinary sport.

Sean Fitzpatrick is on record as saying: “When we woke up on that morning of the final, we knew we were up against something unique – we felt that history was pressing down against us and it was not going to be our day.”

And that had nothing to do with the curry that many of the team had eaten the day before! If they were doing handstands in the shower on the morning of the final, that is their fault, and not that of poor Suzi, the waitress accused of poisoning the Kiwis.

For heaven’s sake! Any Comrades runner will tell you to eat an undemanding pasta on the eve of battle, not a spicy concoction. But that was the All Blacks’ choice of supper, and sod them! Nobody put a gun to their heads.

Well they have had their revenge. In the 45 matches between the countries in the professional era, the All Blacks lead 33 wins to 12.

The last time the Boks beat the Kiwis was in the 2011 match in Port Elizabeth, with the Kiwis later going on to win the Rugby World Cup and the Boks infamously fizzled out in the quarter-finals.

But never mind the All Blacks, many a South African fan will be shocked to read that the average score between the Boks and the Wallabies over the last 100 years is now 19-17 to the South Africans, the Boks having won 44 of 79 Tests played, and one being drawn.

The Boks routinely beat the Aussies in the amateur era but it is oh so different post-1996.

And that is why there is so much pressure on the Boks to beat the Wallabies this weekend in Cape Town. The trend over the last 19 years is that the Boks mostly win in South Africa and the Wallabies generally win at home. Unless it is a special SA team, and then they win home and away.

Well, the Boks lost by a point in Perth three weeks ago, and defeat at Newlands will be nothing short of a disaster for the confidence of a Bok team that is now less than one year away from the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2015.

by Mike Greenaway

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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