It’s the greatest rivalry in rugby history and the timing of this year’s game couldn’t make it more intriguing.
The All Blacks, in one of their worst crises ever, following that historic home defeat to Ireland, embark on their traditionally toughest mission – to face the Springboks in South Africa.
Here are the key numbers ahead of the two tests in the republic over the next two weekends.
Tests the All Blacks played in Mbombela (formerly known as Nelspruit).
Located around 330km east of Johannesburg, where the second Test will take place next weekend, the city, which has a population of only around 110,000, will host the opening of the Rugby League (NZT) on Sunday.
Mbombela Stadium, which was one of five newly built arenas for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, has already been the scene of New Zealand sporting folklore, with the All Whites’ monumental 1-1 draw against Italy during this tournament which takes place there.
Seating around 41,000, the stadium is home to the Pumas, champions of the 2022 Currie Cup, and in its connection to the nearby Kruger National Park it features 18 roof racks that resemble giraffes, while the seats are ornate zebra stripes.
The Springboks have played there three Tests before – winning them all – 30-17 against Scotland in 2013, 31-30 against Wales in 2014 and 30-23 against Argentina in 2016 – and were due to face the Allies there. Blacks in 2020. before Covid-19 put an end to that.
The gap between the All Blacks and the Springboks in each of their two clashes last year.
In fact, the two great rivals have only been separated by more than a conversion kick’s worth once in their last seven meetings.
Quinn Tupaea’s late turnover and Jordie Barrett’s penalty goal sealed the Men in Black a 19-17 victory at Townsville in the Centenary Test last season, before the Boks exacted revenge a week later. late at Robina when Elton Jantjies’ penalty goal in added time secured a 31-29 win.
In 2019, the All Blacks triumphed 23-13 in the World Cup pools and there was a 16-16 draw in Wellington a few months earlier, while the two games of 2018 were once again split each, by two points each time, as New Zealand won 32-30 in Pretoria three weeks after being beaten 36-34 in Wellington.
Where Dane Coles is now on the oldest All Blacks rankings.
After sitting out the first two games against Ireland, the 81 Test hooker came on as a substitute in Game 3 in Wellington and with it jumped eight places from 15th on the list.
Taking to the park at the age of 35 years and 218 days, Coles passed names such as Andy Haden, Sir Colin Meads and fellow prostitutes Tane Norton and Andrew Hore.
If he plays in South Africa, Coles will then overtake Richard Loe in sixth position on a list that includes two 36-year-olds in Keven Mealamu and Brad Thorn, and is led by hooker Ned Hughes, who has played the last of his nine matches. in 1921 at the age of 40 years, 123 days.
The years since the Springboks beat the All Blacks in South Africa. Remarkable, right?
This last time was the 27-25 result in the 2014 clash at Ellis Park in Johannesburg where Pat Lambie landed a 52-yard penalty with a minute left, only awarded by referee Wayne Barnes after the big screens of the place have replayed the high no of Liam Messam. -shot on Schalk Burger.
Since then, the All Blacks prevailed at Ellis Park 27-20 in 2015, won 57-15 in Durban in 2016, beat their hosts 25-24 in Cape Town in 2017 and then surged to a stunning late victory 32-30. in Pretoria in 2018.
That game four years ago was the last time the Men in Black would visit the republic, with the pandemic seeing last year’s Rugby League held entirely in Australia and the Springboks not playing at all in 2020, while 2019 was a World Cup year with a Rugby Championship shortcut.
The 22-year-old becomes the seventh player from Canterbury City to join the All Blacks.
The number of new All Blacks since one made his debut against the Springboks.
With tight props Ofa Tuungafasi and Nepo Laulala both ruled out of the South African tour through injury, Ian Foster called the Crusader Fletcher Newell uncapped.
With new forwards coach Jason Ryan sure to be a big support, the 22-year-old could potentially be in line to be thrown straight against the world champions in their own backyard.
The last All Black to face the Boks in their first Test was Lima Sopoaga, in 2015, with Steve Hansen making the extra-daring call to run with him to No 10 in the hostile climates of Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
And the silky first five-eighth put in a very accomplished performance, scoring 12 points in a 27-20 Rugby Championship win.
Percentage of All Blacks wins against the Springboks.
It’s easily New Zealand’s worst against any Test opponent, well behind their 69.4% against Australia (and the 66.7% in the series alone against the World XV)
However, if the men in black get out of shape and win their two games against the Boks over the next two weekends, it will take their win rate against them to 60.78% – the highest ever since their first match. back in 1921.
Having won just four of their first 14 clashes, the All Blacks dominated the post-apartheid era, but only twice were they able to reduce their overall win rate against their biggest foe to 60%.
This was after their 25-24 win in Cape Town in 2017, and after last year’s 19-17 victory in the 100th Test, in Townsville.