Easily the most-anticipated match of the entire Rugby Championship arrives on Saturday, whereby the Springboks play host to the All Blacks following a dramatic upset in Wellington a fortnight ago. Both sides have announced their respective teams for the encounter, but before the proceedings get underway, here are some facts and stats about the upcoming clash:
• The total test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 490. There are 180 caps in the backline with 310 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 181 caps.
• The average caps per player in the backline are 26, the forwards 39 while the players on the bench average 23. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
• Tendai Mtawarira is the most experienced Springboks against New Zealand with 17 Test matches. The following players have not played against the All Blacks before: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Embrose Papier and Damian Willemse.
Approaching milestones and records:
• Willie le Roux will play in his 50th Test match for South Africa.
• South Africa could score their 150th try against New Zealand if they score two tries in this Test match, and New Zealand need 21 points to reach 2 000 points in Test matches against South Africa.
• Eben Etzebeth will play in his record 38th consecutive Rugby Championship Test match.
• The ground on which Loftus Versfeld is situated today was established in 1906 and was then known as the Eastern Sports Ground. The first International rugby match at this venue was played on 24 July, 1928 when the visiting All Blacks played against Pretoria. The first Test match at Loftus Versfeld was against the 1955 British & Irish Lions team, captained by Robin Thompson of Ireland.
• Saturday’s Test match against New Zealand will be the 36th Test match at Loftus. The stadium has a seating capacity of 49 861.
Record against New Zealand:
• South Africa’s Test match record at Loftus Versfeld – P: 35; W: 27; L: 8; PF: 1 140; PA: 680; TF: 135; TA: 68; Average score: 33-19; Win%: 77%.
• Notwithstanding the good overall Springbok record at this ground, New Zealand’s record against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld is impressive. The All Blacks have played five Test matches, winning four and losing only one, in 1970.
• The Springbok Test record at Loftus against New Zealand – P: 5; W: 1; L: 4; PF: 103; PA: 170; TF: 11; TA: 18; Average score: 21-34; Win%: 20%.
• Top Springbok scorers at this stadium are: Percy Montgomery, 105 (10 Tests), Morné Steyn, 62 (5 Tests) and Naas Botha, 56 (4 Tests).
• Match records are held by Percy Montgomery (31 points, 9 conversions), Danie Gerber, Pieter Rossouw and Bryan Habana (3 tries), Gerald Bosch and Braam van Straaten (6 penalty goals) and Morné Steyn (2 drop goals).
• The most points scored by South Africa against New Zealand at Loftus were 26 on two occasions (1996 and 2006), while New Zealand racked up 52 points in 2003.
• South Africa’s overall record in the Rugby Championship against New Zealand is: P: 48; W: 13; L: 35; PF: 917; PA: 1 392; TF: 85; TA: 148; Average score: 19-29. Win%: 27%.
• South Africa’s overall record against New Zealand is: P: 96; W: 36; L: 57; D: 3; PF: 1 518; PA: 1 979; TF: 148; TA: 218; Average score: 16-21. Win%: 38%.
• South Africa’s biggest win against New Zealand was 90 years ago in 1928 in Durban when the Springboks won 17-0.
Match officials: • The referee is Angus Gardner of Australia. To date, Gardner has refereed in 16 Test matches with four Tests matches involving South Africa, with the Springboks having lost two and won two with him in charge.
• The two assistant referees are Jérôme Garcès of France and Matt Carley of England, while Graham Hughes of England will be the TMO.
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.
All Blacks – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8. Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Ryan Crotty.