Rugby | Semi adds to All Blacks-Boks' history

Heyneke Meyer

Twickenham – “When South Africa plays New Zealand, consider your country at war,” legendary Springbok prop Boy Louw once said.

READ: Boks v All Blacks – 19 stats and facts

READ: Springboks’ Test record against the All Blacks

READ: No more ifs and buts… this is it!

It has been that way since their first Test in 1921 and that is how it will be when they meet for the 91st time in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final at Twickenham.

The Springboks against the All Blacks is one of the fiercest rivalries in rugby with street riots, Olympic boycotts, heavyweight boxers, broken bones and the advent of mouthguards all part of its history.

Louw spoke before the bitter 1949 series in South Africa which the Springboks swept 4-0 drawing complaints from the All Blacks of biased refereeing.

Rumblings of discontent continued for many series with the great Springbok centre of the 1960s, John Gainsford, later telling New Zealand: “When you come to us, we cheat you and beat you. And when we go to you, you cheat us and beat us.”

But no amount of complaining in the days before neutral referees could sway the All Blacks and Springboks from their passionate desire to play each other.

It led to unrest in New Zealand in 1981 when anti-apartheid protestors, trying to shutdown the Springbok tour, fought pitched battles with riot police.

A provincial match against Waikato was cancelled when demonstrators broke through barricades to invade the pitch. Protesters used an aircraft to rain flour bombs on Eden Park during the fourth Test.

The first official Test between New Zealand and South Africa was played in Dunedin in 1921 with the All Blacks triumphant 13-5. South Africa won the second Test 9-5 and the third was drawn 0-0.

The first All Blacks tour to South Africa in 1928 also ended in a tied series, with the four-match campaign shared 2-2.

The All Blacks won the next Test at home before the Springboks took control claiming the next six Tests to clean up series in New Zealand in 1937 and at home in the 1949 when penalties by Okey Geffin made the difference.

One of the most famous of all rugby tours came in 1956 with New Zealand desperate to end South Africa’s record of never having lost a series in 60 years. The legend of Kevin Skinner was born.

The All Blacks scrum was given a torrid time in the first two Tests leading to a recall for the retired Skinner, who was also a heavyweight boxing champion.

Skinner admitted to punching both Springbok props, Chris Koch and Jaap Bekker and the South African aggression subsided.

New Zealand went on to claim the series 3-1 and Skinner went back into retirement.

In 1970, when New Zealand refused to tour apartheid South Africa unless they could select a fully representative team, Samoan Bryan Williams and three Maori players including Buff Milner, an uncle of current All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder, were granted “honorary white” status.

Again it was a tour of acrimony, notably the second Test when Springbok wing Syd Nomis was felled by All Blacks full-back Fergie McCormick and lost several teeth in an incident now credited with pioneering the use of mouth guards.

In the third Test, when Colin Meads played with a broken arm, McCormick was so roughed up he could not start the final match.

Six year later, several African nations boycotted the Montreal Olympics in protest as the All Blacks continued to defy anti-apartheid protests and toured South Africa in 1976.

When legal action prevented an All Black tour in 1985, 28 of the 30 players New Zealand players originally selected mounted a rebel tour of South Africa the following year.

The four internationals are still considered Tests in South Africa but are not recognised by New Zealand.

By the time rugby turned professional after the 1995 World Cup, when South Africa beat New Zealand in the final, the Springboks had won 21 of the 42 Tests played against the All Blacks with three drawn.

The tide has now turned in favour of the All Blacks who have won 34 of the 48 Tests since.


South Africa:

Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende,
11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Duane
Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben
Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Victor
Matfield, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan

New Zealand:

15 Ben Smith,
14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea,
10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw
(captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen
Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes 16 Keven Mealamu, 17
Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera
Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Sonny Bill Williams

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