The Springboks haven’t had a great season so far, and their first Rugby Championship campaign under new coach Allister Coetzee has been less than satisfying. A shock loss to Argentina in Salta and a poor performance against the Wallabies in Brisbane has left South Africa with their backs against the wall, and it isn’t getting any easier.
The men in green travel to Christchurch this weekend to face-off against the All Blacks, who, based on their performances this year, are in spectacular form and won’t hesitate to put their foots on the throat of the Springboks.
However, before the match gets underway, here’s some important stats and facts you need to know:
Head to head:
• South Africa and New Zealand will play in their 92nd Test match since their first encounter in 1921. South Africa won 35, lost 53 and three matches were drawn for a winning percentage of 38%.
• To date, 43 Rugby Championship matches were played between the two countries of which South Africa won 12 and lost 31 for a winning percentage of 28%.
• The complete South African Rugby Championship record against New Zealand is: Played 43, Won 12, Lost 31, Points for 829, Points against 1 178, Tries for 76, Tries against 116, Average score 19-27.
• The last time that South Africa won a Test match in New Zealand was seven years ago when the Springboks won by three points in Hamilton, the final score being 32-29. Since then New Zealand have been unbeaten in 43 Test matches at home against all opposition.
• The highest scores by the two opponents were New Zealand 55-35 in 1997 in Auckland and South Africa 46-40 in 2000 in Johannesburg. The aggregate of 90 points in the Auckland Test is also the highest ever in a Test match between them.
• The highest winning margin by the two rivals were 36 by New Zealand (52-16) in 2003 in Pretoria, while 17 points is still the highest winning margin by the Springboks when Phil Mostert’s team kept the All Blacks scoreless (17-0) in 1928 in Durban.
• The match officials for this match are: Referee – Angus Gardner (Australia); Assistant referees – Pascal Gaüzère (France) and Marius Mitrea (Italy) with the TMO George Ayoub (Australia).
•It will only be Gardner’s second appearance as referee in Test matches involving South Africa. The Springboks won the second Test against Ireland in June with Gardner in charge.
• The inaugural Tri-Nations Test match between New Zealand and South Africa was played on 20 July, 1996 at Lancaster Park, Christchurch. On 22 February, 2011, Christchurch was struck by an earthquake and the stadium at Lancaster Park (later named Jade Stadium) was damaged to such an extent that no further sporting activities were possible.
• A temporary outdoor sporting venue, AMI Stadium, was built at Rugby League Park to accommodate major sporting events. As a result, Super Rugby and Test matches in Christchurch are now played at AMI Stadium. Saturday’s Test match will be the first for the Springboks at this stadium.
• The total Test caps in the starting line-up are 488 – of this, 210 caps are in the backline with 278 among the forwards. The combined test caps of those on the bench are 133. The average caps per player in the match-23 are 21.
• The youngest player in the squad is Jesse Kriel (22y, 7m) while the oldest member of the team is Bryan Habana (33y, 3m).
• The tallest player in the squad is Eben Etzebeth (2.04m), the shortest is Faf de Klerk (1.72m), the heaviest is Steven Kitshoff (125kg) and the lightest is Faf de Klerk (80kg).
• The following players will play in their seventh consecutive match in the starting XV under Allister Coetzee’s reign: Faf de Klerk, Francois Louw, Eben Etzebeth, Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira.
• Bryan Habana is the top try scorer (7) for South Africa against New Zealand while Morné Steyn is the top points scorer with 1 try, 10 conversions, 31 penalty goals and 2 drop goals for a total of 124 career points in 11 appearances against the All Blacks.
• This Test match will be the 800th rugby match that the Springboks will play against international opposition. It is the 459th Test match for South Africa. Since the first tour to the British Isles & Ireland in 1906, 341 official non-test matches were played by the Springboks.
• Bryan Habana will become the most capped Springbok in the tournament (51 appearances) thereby surpassing Jean de Villiers’ 50 career appearances. It will also be his 120th Test match as a wing in the Green and Gold, which is a World Record.
• Eben Etzebeth will play in his 28th consecutive Test match (all in the lock position) and thereby equaling the record of Victor Matfield for most consecutive Test appearances as a lock.
• Morné Steyn needs three successful penalty goals to equal Percy Montgomery’s career record of 148 penalty goals in Test matches. He is also co-record holder with four drop goals in his Rugby Championship career, the other players being Dan Carter of New Zealand and fellow Springbok André Pretorius.
• Possible Test and Rugby Championship debut: Malcolm Marx could make his Test and Championship debut, should he be used off the bench. He will then be Springbok #876.
• Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit will play their first Test match against the All Blacks. Lourens Adriaanse, Steven Kitshoff, Jaco Kriel, Malcolm Marx and Franco Mostert could also make their first appearance against New Zealand should they be required as replacements.
Springboks – 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Damian de Allende.
All Blacks – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
What is your prediction for the match? Will the Springboks pull off a shock win or will the All Blacks remain dominant? Let us know by tweeting us @MenStuffZA!