Rassie Erasmus has named a strong squad for Saturday's Rugby Championship match against Argentina. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
Rassie Erasmus has named a strong squad for Saturday's Rugby Championship match against Argentina. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Durban a grey area for the green and gold

By Darryn Pollock Time of article published Aug 18, 2018

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 Unfortunately for the Springboks, Durban’s Kings Park has not been a very happy hunting ground in recent years.

The biggest ever loss on South African soil came for the national side at the east coast venue in 2016, and another infamous record is one for the Argentinians.

In 2015, the Pumas, in the fourth year of the Rugby Championship, picked up their first win against the Springboks in their history and it was on foreign soil for them, at Kings Park.

The match ended there 37-25 to the South Americans with six of today’s Springbok match-day squad feeling that loss.

It has been brought up, in hushed tones, to the players and coaches this week, but they have rightly chosen to leave that game for the annals of history, focusing on the future.

The Boks are in a very different space to where they were after that loss, and although history is to learn from, there must still be some sting from that loss considering today’s opponents and venue.

Durban may have a bit of a voodoo hanging over it from 2015 and the Pumas loss, as well as 2016 and the All Black loss, but it is not all doom and gloom emanating from the ground for the national side. The Boks have a 60 percent win ratio at Kings Park, having played 33 games there, winning 20, losing 10, and drawing three.

To put that into some context, their best record, at traditional stadiums, is at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria where the win record is 77 percent.

However, Durban is the place where they have performed worst.

Still, if Durban is the bogey stadium, and has witnessed some low points for the Springboks, it is also a ground where some magic has occurred.

Although it was 23 years ago now, there will still be many who can recall the tension and anticipation of June 17, 1995, where the Springboks were on the verge of being knocked out of a home World Cup without playing the semi-final.

Torrential rain had flooded Kings Park, and but for the valiant effort of ground staff, sweeping tons of water off the surface in iconic footage of determination, the Boks would never have gone on to contest the final, and lift the World Cup, as they beat France 19-15. There was also the first British and Irish Lions Test in Durban where the Boks emerged 26-21 winners, setting them on their way to a series victory.

It was also a victory that was borne off the back of an almighty performance from Beast Mtawarira who destroyed veteran tighthead Phil Vickery and announced himself on the World Stage at the tender age of 23.

There was also the game in 1999, for those who enjoy a try-fest, as the Springboks ran riot winning 101-0 against Italy in what was their second-biggest victory after a 134-3 win against Uruguay in 2005.


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