The All Blacks will lock horns with fierce rivals, the Springboks for the very first in a Rugby World Cup pool stage encounter on Saturday at the Yokohama International Stadium in a Pool B clash.
All previous clashes between the two rugby superpowers were in the knockout stages. The All Blacks have met the Springboks at the World Cup on four occasions with the defending World Champions, New Zealand winning two and losing two matches while scoring 79 points and conceding 64 and also scoring five tries and conceding only one in those Tests.
A testimony to the fact that an All Blacks-Springboks clash is the benchmark of rugby greatness is the last three meetings between the two sides which produced a win for each nation and a draw. This is a rivalry characterised by hard, gutsy competitive and exciting rugby with all the players from both sides leaving everything they’ve got on the field.
Siya Kolisi, a boy from a township called Zwide will become the first-ever black Springbok captain at a Rugby World Cup. Kolisi wearing the iconic number 6 jersey lifting the Webb Ellis Cup would be a dream and that will do a whole lot of good for rugby in South Africa.
"When I put on the jersey and remind myself who I'm playing for. Everybody who has been hungry, everybody who's ever struggled financially, everybody who has walked to school without shoes on."-Siya Kolisi
— The Sporting Detail (@SportingDetail) September 14, 2019
The referee for this titanic clash, Jerome Garces will be officiating in his 14th Test involving the Springboks. Garces was the man in charge when the hosts of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Japan shocked the Springboks with a 34-32 win at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
Rassie Erasmus’ men have only won four matches out of 13 when the Frenchman, Garces takes the whistle. Well if you thought that is a bad record the, think again as the Springboks have never won a Test against the All Blacks with Garces in charge in five matches.
Ahead of their game on Saturday, Erasmus and assistant coach, Mzandile Stick said the referees tend to be bias and favour the All Blacks whenever there is a 50/50 call. The All Blacks coach, Steve Hansen wasn’t really pleased with their comments, saying that they are trying to influence the referee.
The All Blacks have an impeccable winning percentage of 88% at the Rugby World Cup which is the highest at the World Cup. They have only lost six matches at the Rugby World Cup, winning 45 out of their 51 encounters. In the history of the Rugby World Cup, the All Blacks are yet to lose a Pool match.
Since re-admission, the Springboks have won 30 out of their 36 World Cup matches. This is the second-best record at the Rugby World Cup with an impressive winning percentage of 83%.
Fans favorite Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtwawarira alongside Frans Steyn have 11 Rugby World caps each to their names, making them the most experienced Springbok players in the selected 23. Meanwhile, All Blacks’ due of Sam Whitelock and Sonny Bill Williams each have made 14 World Cup appearance with captain Kieran Read having more than 100 Test caps to his name.
Duane Vermeulen is set to make his 50th Test appearance for the Springboks while Eben Etzebeth who is accused of racial abuse will play in his 80th Test match.
Springbok’s flyhalf, Handre Pollard is only 7 points away from reaching a century of Rugby World Cup points and if he manages to score 12 points in Saturday’s Test, he will also reach 100 points against the formidable All Blacks. Pollard only needs one point to surpass Percy Montgomery’s career record of 16 conversions against the All Blacks.