Ultimate test for Springboks
THE SPRINGBOKS could hardly have had a rosier start to 2017, given the horrors of 2016, and entered a Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks today unbeaten in six matches. The Boks lost eight out of 12 Tests last year, but the signs are that the Boks have turned the corner, regained their and are determined to take South African rugby into a new era.
The ultimate exam is playing the All Blacks in New Zealand. There is no place to hide against the most ruthless team in rugby history. In the amateur era, that status belonged to the Boks – when the Boks and the All Blacks renewed battle in 1992 after isolation, the former had beaten the latter 20 times against 15 losses.
As South African rugby evolves, there is hope that the Boks can one day be All Blacks-beaters again, given that they arguably enjoy the best resources in the world in emerging schoolboy talent.
The Boks will know where they stand once they have judged themselves against the Kiwis on their home turf. This year they beat France 3-0 in a home series, as well as Argentina home and away in the Rugby Championship.
The first litmus Test for the Boks was against the Wallabies in Perth last Saturday. The Boks drew 23-23.
They would have taken heart from that performance and now meet their old foes, who have had a few cracks in their invincibility exposed this year.
The All Blacks lost and drew against the British and Irish Lions on home soil in June and almost lost to the Wallabies in Dunedin.
Today, the Boks will want to prove they are the real deal; the All Blacks want to snuff out this “nonsense” that they are on the decline. It is a match that rugby fans dare not miss.