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, a poor second-half performance against the Wallabies in Brisbane, and a significant defeat to the All Blacks in Christchurch has left South Africa playing for pride for the remainder of the tournament.
The men in green host the Wallabies at Loftus, Pretoria, this weekend who are also looking to find redemption with a strong away performance.
However, before the match gets underway, here’s some important stats and facts you need to know:
Head to head:
• South Africa and Australia will meet for the 83rd time since their first Test match in 1933. South Africa won 45, lost 36 and one match was drawn for a win percentage of 55%.
• The inaugural Tri-Nations (Rugby Championship) Test match between Australia and South Africa was played in Sydney on 13 July, 1996. To date, 44 matches were played between the two countries of which South Africa won 21, lost 22 and drawn 1. The total points’ difference is only 7 points in favour of South Africa.
• The complete South African Rugby Championship record against Australia is: Played 44, Won 21, Lost 22, Drawn 1, Points for 981, Points against 974, Tries for 94, Tries against 96, Average score 23-23.
• The match officials for this match are: Referee – Wayne Barnes (England); assistant referees – John Lacey (Ireland) and George Clancy (Ireland), with the TMO Jim Yuille (Scotland).
• It will be Barnes’ 13th appearance as referee in a Test matches involving South Africa. The Springboks won nine and lost three of the previous 12 Tests with him in charge.
•Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria has a seating capacity of 51,762. The Springbok record at this stadium is: Played 33, Won 25, Lost 8, Points for 1 085, Points against 656, Tries for 131, Tries against 65. The average score is 33-20.
•The most points scored in a Test match by a Springbok player at this stadium are 31, when Percy Montgomery scored two tries, kicked nine conversions and a penalty goal against Wales in June, 1998. South Africa won that Test 96-13, at the time the biggest win ever for the Springboks.
•Four years ago, almost to the day, Bryan Habana scored a hat-trick of tries against Australia at Loftus in a 31-8 win for the Springboks.
•Loftus Versfeld was home to the second biggest win by the Springboks against Australia. On 23 August 1997 South Africa won 61-22, scoring eight tries, six conversions and three penalty goals.
•The complete Rugby Championship record at Loftus against Australia is: Played 5, Won 5, Points for 178, Points against 92, Tries for 20, Tries against 9. The average score is 36-18.
•The total Test caps in the starting line-up are 596 – 310 in the backline with 286 amongst the forwards. The combined test caps of those on the bench are 124. The average caps per player for the 23 are 31.
•The youngest player in the 23 man squad is Jesse Kriel (22y, 7m) while the oldest member of the team is Bryan Habana (33y, 3m).
•The following players will play in their eighth consecutive match in the starting-XV under Allister Coetzee’s reign: Francois Louw, Eben Etzebeth, Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira.
•Bryan Habana is the top try scorer (9) for South Africa against Australia while Morné Steyn is the top points scorer with 16 conversions, 39 penalty goals and three drop goals for a total of 158 career points in 14 appearances against the Wallabies.
•Bryan Habana needs one try against Australia for his career record 10th try against the Wallabies. He is also the record holder for most Springbok career tries at Loftus Versfeld (8).
•Eben Etzebeth will play in his 29th consecutive Test match, elevating him into joint third with Morné Steyn for most consecutive Tests in a career. Only Gary Teichmann (39) and John Smit (46) have played in more consecutive Tests.
•Morné Steyn needs three successful penalty goals to equal Percy Montgomery’s career record of 148 penalty goals in Test matches. Only one penalty goal will bring up his 40th penalty goal against Australia as well as improving his record career points against Australia to 161. 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.
•The following two players will play their first Test match against the Wallabies: Vincent Koch and Rudy Paige. It will also be his first Test match against Australia should Julian Redelinghuys be used as a substitute.
Springboks – 15 Pat Lambie, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Rudy Paige, 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 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Willie le Roux.
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
What is your prediction for the match? Will the Springboks pull off a shock win or will the Wallabies remain dominant? Let us know by tweeting us @MenStuffZA!