The changing face of sport

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

Eighteen months ago, it was impossible to imagine the pandemic that was to come which would turn the world upside down.

No better illustration for sports fans of changes that would be necessary to outflank Covid-19, was the very big rugby milestone of the 100th test match between the All Blacks and the Springboks played last weekend.

Who could have envisaged that the celebration of 100 years of rugby tests between New Zealand and South Africa would be played in Australia, as second fiddle to the Wallaby's verses Puma's encounter.

The very first test match, in what would become the biggest rivalry in world-wide rugby, took place at Carisbrook Park in Dunedin on August 13, 1921.

Test-match number one was taken out by the All Blacks by a margin of 15 points to 5.

The Boks came back to grab the second game 9-5, with the third match-up ending in what seems like an unbelievable result today, of a nil-all draw.

Over the last 100 years, New Zealand has won 60 matches, South Africa 36, with four games ending with the two sides unable to be separated.

While it would appear that the All Blacks have dominated the Springboks, a look back in time tells us that South Africa was in charge in the early test series.

When the Springboks embarked on a three month tour of New Zealand in 1956, the scoreline between the two nations stood at; South Africa 9, New Zealand 4,  and the 0-0 draw.

The World Rugby Museum website tells us; "the South African tour of New Zealand in 1956 saw the Springbok supremacy turn and ebb towards the land of the long white cloud. The green and gold machine had never been defeated in a test series anywhere in the world since 1896".

In 1956, rugby fever gripped the nation with the Springboks touring the length and breadth of the country by chartered trains, during their 23 match tour. Just over two hundred thousand fans packed like sardines, into Carisbrook, Wellington’s Athletic Park.

Lancaster Park in Christchurch and Eden Park, to watch the All Blacks defeat South Africa 3-1 in the test series.

The rugby tragic's amongst us, would delight in the myriad of statistics produced over the last one hundred years of All Black v Springbok encounters.

All Black numbers show 2069 points scored made up of 226 tries, 141 conversions, 227 penalties and 21 dropped goals.

By comparison, the Springboks posted 1597 points with 154 touchdowns, 105 conversions, 205 penalty goals and edged the All Blacks with 28 dropped goals.

History also tells us that South Africa scored one goal from a mark in the early days of rugby’s greatest rivalry.

With the month’s long rugby tours of the country a distant memory, today, 'The Rugby Championship' between the All Blacks, Australia, South Africa and Argentina takes center stage, with the Bledisloe Cup contested with the team from over the ditch sandwiched into the Southern Hemisphere rugby series.



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