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Five classic All Blacks v Springboks matches
Ahead of Saturday’s 100th test between New Zealand and South Africa, we pick out five classic encounters between the teams.
Very few people would argue – certainly outside of England and Wales – that the biggest of rugby rivalries features South Africa and New Zealand.
What makes Saturday’s encounter between the two proud rugby nations in Townsville in Queensland even more special is that the teams will come together for the 100th time in tests in the centenary year of the first fixture.
And the fact that the All Blacks have just knocked the Springboks off top spot in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings just adds further spice to the occasion.
New Zealand have 59 wins to South Africa’s 36 with four draws for good measure but which were the best matches of the lot?
We select five of the best.
TRC RD#5 TEAMS 🏉🏆@AllBlacks and @Springboks teams have been named for the historic 100th test match between the old enemies, and top two teams in world rugby, in Townsville, Australia...— Super Rugby/TRC (@SuperRugby) September 23, 2021
Team details: https://t.co/6IJ8vE6DZp#TRC2021#NZLvRSA pic.twitter.com/frOzT82m3X
September 2018: New Zealand 34-36 South Africa (Westpac Stadium, Wellington)
This was a result no-one saw coming.
The Springboks hadn’t beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand in nine years and had been on the wrong end of a 57-0 scoreline the year before.
However, the resilience of the Springboks under Rassie Erasmus was just starting to come to fruition and they always had the edge on the scoreboard.
Aphiwe Dyantyi helped himself to a brace while the rest of the Springboks' tries were scored by Willie Le Roux, Malcolm Marx and Cheslin Kolbe, the winger’s first in test rugby.
The All Blacks had a chance to level the scores after Ardie Savea crossed for their sixth try with five minutes to go but Beauden Barrett’s conversion struck the upright.
August 2000: South Africa 46-40 New Zealand (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Five years on from the Rugby World Cup 1995 final win, Ellis Park staged another classic but one of a very different nature as the Springboks outscored the All Blacks six tries to four.
The last points of the match actually came in the 66th minute when Werner Swanepoel scored the second of his two tries, so who knows what the eventual scoreline would have been had the teams maintained their efficiency in attack until the very last whistle.
The Springboks scored at virtually a point every minute in leading 33-13 just past the half-hour mark and their eventual tally of 46 was a record against the All Blacks by any team until Australia went one better in 2019.
🍿 WATCH | To get you hyped for Saturday we take you back to 2010 for another epic contest against the Springboks.#NZLvRSA100— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 23, 2021
August 1996: South Africa 26-33 New Zealand (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
1996 has been called the greatest year for All Blacks rugby which is quite something when you consider none of their three Rugby World Cup wins fell in that year.
One year on from their Rugby World Cup 1995 final defeat to the Springboks, the newly-crown Tri-Nations champions set off for South Africa determined to put the record straight and win their first series there at the sixth attempt.
Despite the absence of Jonah Lomu on the left wing due to a slight knee cartilage tear, the All Blacks had managed wins in Cape Town and Durban to go to Pretoria 2-0 up in the four-test series.
Two superb tries from Jeff Wilson and another from Zinzan Brooke, who also kicked a trademark drop goal, and an heroic defensive effort in the face of a second-half onslaught, saw them create history.
June 1995: South Africa 15-12 (aet) New Zealand (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
The first Rugby World Cup final to go to extra-time had everything – intrigue in the pre-match build-up, the game’s first real superstar and the most dramatic of finishes.
The Springboks managed to nullify the threat of Jonah Lomu, who’d ran riot throughout the rest of the tournament, but the hopes of the newly-unified nation still rested on the cool shoulders of Joel Stransky as normal time ended with honours even at 9-9.
Stransky had traded kicks with his opposite number, Andrew Mehrtens, throughout and that continued in extra-time until the Springbok fly-half landed the telling drop goal.
“It was just a phenomenal game. We could have won it before full-time and New Zealand could have won it before full-time and then we went into extra-time,” recalled winning captain Francois Pienaar.
August 1956: New Zealand 17-10 South Africa (Lancaster Park, Christchurch)
Until 1956 the All Blacks had never won a series against the Springboks, but they went into the fourth test 2-1 up and on the brink of making history.
Everything depended on the result at Lancaster Park, and it drew a crowd of 61,240, still a New Zealand test record.
The mammoth boot of Don Clarke gave New Zealand a slender 3-0 lead at half-time but it was Peter Jones’ fine individual effort that effectively sealed the win.
Jones, a huge loose forward in those days, used his footballing skills to kick a loose ball from a lineout towards the try line and then gathered it in, expertly, before touching down to the delight of the masses crammed around the touchline.
Read more: All Blacks return to the top of the World Rugby Men’s Rankings >>