Any All Blacks vs Springboks Test match is an important match-up. 2021 presents us with two centenaries to celebrate in the rivalry between the two giants of Southern Hemisphere and world rugby.
The first centenary reaches back into the history of rugby between the two countries and their first meeting. The second one is a record of the entire history between them.
Remembering the first All Blacks vs Springboks Test
The first encounter between the two powerhouse rugby nations took place on August 12 1921 in Dunedin. It was unfortunately an acrimonious affair won by the Springboks 11-3. The stark contrast between South Africa and New Zealand’s cultures created conflict before the game. This conflict was to raise its head many times in the rugby-playing relationship between the two countries. The most controversial conflict was the 1981 Springbok tour to New Zealand, which divided the population of the country.
Photo Credit: NZ History
The 100th All Blacks vs Springboks Test
The All Blacks and Springboks have met 99 times in Test matches with the All Blacks winning 59 matches, the Springboks 36 and four matches being drawn. It was originally planned to hold the 100th Test on 25 September in Dunedin, the venue of their first meeting on 13 August 1921. Due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions in New Zealand, this Test will be played in Perth. This is not ideal as it will effectively be an away game for both teams. A celebration appropriate for the occasion, hosted by one of the participating nations would have been ideal. This is sadly not to be. Credit is due to New Zealand Rugby for originally planning that this historic match is played in the city that their first match was played in.
The planned Test in Perth may also be in jeopardy with rising Coronavirus cases in Western Australia. This could affect travel and quarantine arrangements depending on lockdown requirements and SANZAAR might be facing a tricky juggling act to complete their match schedule. Although nothing is confirmed yet, there are rumours that the rest of the Rugby Championship may play itself out in Europe. This has been further reinforced with the All Blacks decision not to travel to Perth for their third Bledisloe Cup Test.
Rise to the occasion
After all the negativity surrounding the recent British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa and the clashes of heads between New Zealand and South Africa in past years over culture and politics, we can only hope that both sides rise to the occasion and pay this All Blacks vs Springboks Test the respect it deserves. The quality of play and the result is one thing. This Test deserves pageantry and a quality exchange of meaningful tokens of respect.
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