Auckland – The Springboks broke a 42-year drought against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday. This week, they’ll be in hot pursuit of a record that dates back to 1937.
Heyneke Meyer’s team celebrated a rare Wallaby scalp at the conclusion of the third round of the Rugby Championship, rumbling to the Boks’s biggest away win against Australia and their first win at the Suncorp Stadium.
But it’s been 76 years since South Africa won in Auckland – 1937 was the year that Flip Nel led the tourists to a 17-6 win against the All Blacks at Eden Park.
In seven matches since then, Francois Pienaar’s team came closest to tasting victory at Eden Park, with the 1994 Test ending in an 18-18 stalemate.
Since then the Boks have won just three of 19 Tests against the All Blacks in New Zealand, a 32-29 result in Hamilton in 2009 the most recent.
On Sunday night, Meyer’s squad arrived in Auckland to a rousing welcome from a local Kaapse Klopse band, but it was news that All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has been ruled out that would have been music to their ears.
The world champions’s iconic captain suffered a knee ligament injury during a 28-13 victory over Argentina in Hamilton on Saturday.
Initial reports suggested McCaw would be sidelined for up to five weeks, but Steve Hansen on Sunday confirmed that the veteran flanker might be ready to face the Boks at Ellis Park on October 5.
The All Blacks coach also said that Chiefs loose forward Sam Cane, 21, will take over the No 7 jersey, and the match day squad is to be rounded off by Crusaders fetcher Matt Todd. Hansen rates Kieran Read as “the best No 8 in the world” and the Crusaders link man will take over the captaincy.
McCaw was helped off the field at the start of the fourth quarter as the Pumas worked to deny the All Blacks a four-try bonus point, and South Africa will go into the showdown at at Eden Park in first place on the overall standings.
An immoveable Bok scrum set the stage for the win in Brisbane, and Meyer will feel bullish about the chances of a repeat performance from his tight five after All Blacks props Tony Woodcock (’flu) and Wyatt Crockett (concussion) made an early exit from play at the weekend.
The Boks scored nine tries in a 73-13 romp over Argentina at the FNB Stadium in the Rugby Championship-opener, though New Zealand’s failure to emulate the 60-point margin of victory can be attributed to a steady downpour that fell at Hamilton.
Hansen pinned an error-ridden All Blacks performance – including 16 handling mistakes – on sluggish adaptation to appalling conditions, and the coach complained about the lack of kicking.
It looks like the hosts will have a chance to follow those orders this week as local forecasts anticipate a four-day spell of wet weather to start on Thursday.
No McCaw, Woodcock or Crockett, coupled with inclement weather, could tee the Springboks up for what would be a special achievement delighting their home fans.
Beating the Wallabies and All Blacks on the road in the same season has only been accomplished four times in the history of the rivalry between the three southern hemisphere giants – in 1937, 1956, 1998 and 2009.
Meyer’s team exceeded expectations with the win at the Suncorp. Following that up with an almost unheard-of victory at Eden Park, against an All Blacks team that has only lost once since winning the 2011 World Cup, would unlock New Zealand’s trophy cabinet and give the Boks a shot at getting their hands on the Rugby Championship trophy.