Originating in 1921, the fixture between New Zealand and South Africa is the fiercest rivalry in world rugby. With considerable history on and off the field, these two sides have produced some unforgettable duels over the decades.
Until 1996 New Zealand had never won a series in South Africa whereas the Springboks had won on All Black turf in 1937, a remarkable statistic considering the historical dominance of New Zealand. Prior to the professional era South Africa held more head-to head victories than New Zealand, although since 1995 the All Blacks have won 41 of their 57 matches against South Africa.
The Springboks are measured on only two things; how well they do in a World Cup and their performances against the All Blacks. If you ever asked a South African what their greatest team of all time was, the responses would include the 1995 World Cup winning side and the 2007-2009 side that Won a World Cup, beat the Lions and held countless trophies. Older generations would mention the 1937, 1949 and 1976 Boks sides. But what do they all have in common?
They all beat New Zealand.
The infamous ‘Rebel Tour’ split opinion across New Zealand in 1981 when South Africa were an international pariah due to the Apartheid. The All Blacks decided politics didn’t have a place in sport and allowed the tour to continue, leading to street protests and flour-bombs during matches. The tensions between the two nations have never truly recovered.
This political tension combined with the on-field animosity is the reason we all love to watch this fierce fixture.
Graphics by: Tom Burns
Various images courtesy of freepik.com