Big two poised to reignite game’s greatest rivalry
even weariness. This Saturday, though, is different.
Whatever the merits of Italy, Namibia and Canada in Pool B, the two countries will almost certainly qualify for the knockout stages. But there will be a notch on the belt for the winner; a pat on the shoulder for the inner man to bolster the psyche for future times.
It has always been this way. New Zealand have become far more conspicuous since the game went professional – buffed and boosted by marketing executives. The glitz, though, has substance and the All Blacks became by far the stronger entity, overturning South Africa’s long-held advantage.
Pre-professionalism in the mid-nineties, the Boks led the series, 21-18. By the 1956 tour of New Zealand, the All Blacks had never won a series against the Springboks. The last meeting between the sides had been in 1949, when New Zealand had been beaten 4-0; their manhood questioned as the Springboks scrum drove them into the ground.
It is a pool match in name only – a game that will resonate beyond the confines of the tournament