Wallabies vs. Springboks: A rivalry hiding in plain sight

Andrew Roar Pro

By Andrew, Andrew is a Roar Pro

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    Compared to Bledisloe Cup games, the annual home Test against South Africa used to be the bogey prize for those in search of Wallabies tickets every year – the equivalent of getting a pair of socks for Christmas while your sibling received a games console, a surfboard or a new bicycle.

    Everybody remembers where they were for ‘the greatest game ever played’ against New Zealand in 2000, but I doubt even the players remember playing the Springboks at the same venue in Sydney just two weeks later.

    Personally, watching the Wallabies run up a cricket score against the Boks at Suncorp in 2006 was as stultifying and narcolepsy-inducing as it gets compared to the gripping and tense Brisbane Bledisloe encounter that same year.

    There have of course been many outstanding Tests between Australia and South Africa, but peculiarly, most have occurred almost exclusively outside of Australia.

    Durban 2000 (the Stirling Mortlock kick), Bloemfentein 2010 (the Kurtley Beale kick), Wellington 2011 (the David Pocock semi-final) and of course the glorious, orgasmic, still scarcely believable semi-final of Twickenham 1999 were all for the most part (Wellington the exception) watched from the comfort of home, tucked up under the doona and trying vainly not to fall asleep at any stage.

    Perhaps this night-owl relationship, coupled with our geographic closeness to New Zealand, and the Boks’ traditional power game has led to the perception of the South African Tests being less glamorous. (An oddity in world rugby considering many All Blacks’ fans consider their rivalry with South Africa to be the most prestigious in the game, and the fact that northern hemisphere teams still revel in the achievement of beating them.)

    Will Genia Wallabies Springboks Rugby Union Test Championship 2016 Australia South Africa

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    Simply put, Australia versus South Africa is a rivalry hiding in plain sight.

    Springboks of the past were absolutely awe-inspiring in their aggression and skill, with the likes of Os Du Rant, Ollie le Roux, Joost van der Westhuizen and the sublime Bryan Habana all unreal to watch. But the hatred wasn’t there, with the Bledisloe being as emotionally draining as it gets and the sheer pantomime and fun of the England rivalry taking up the rest (will the 76-0 win ever get old? In a word, no).

    South African rugby has had well-documented struggles over the past couple of years, albeit it providing the world with one of the most joyous moments in sport this century – Japan’s victory over the Boks in Brighton at the 2015 World Cup.

    The shoots of recovery were there in the 3-0 series victory over France (possibly missed by many as it was concurrent with the Lions tour and Australia’s mid-year Tests), and it has helped that Allister Coetzee has been given the time and resources to turn things around his way.

    In saying that, it’s hard to see how this weekend’s Test is going to stoke the fires of many supporters, as the backdrop and build-up is just plain weird, with the arbitration decision, Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s subsequent press conference and an entire year’s worth of Sandgroper frustration completely overshadowing everything. Indeed, it seems everyone will have half an eye on the field and half on the stands to see if the planned protests, boycotts and different colour wearing will materialise.

    Hopefully the on-field action will provide a spark, a talking point or a moment to give this fixture the needle it needs without resorting to the violence and thuggery of the 2002 and 2003 home Tests. At present the best moment in Perth Tests for me was Adam Ashley-Cooper making his debut minutes after lining up for a beer and a pie – let’s hope the beers and pies flow for all after a classic Test match on Saturday.

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    The Crowd Says (50)

    • September 7th 2017 @ 5:22am
      englishbob said | September 7th 2017 @ 5:22am | ! Report

      good article Andrew, how about a deal, you don’t mention the 76-0 and I wont mention last years 3-0 😛 .
      Ive always enjoyed watching the bokke, theres a bit of Durban in my ancestry and you know when the big lads in green and gold run on at the very least someone is going to be feeling sore the day after. While rarely as spectacular as a good bledisloe game or NZ vs SA match there have been some good contests, Aus SA 2015 was a great game and great finish.
      I honestly think that this springbok pack is now probably at least as good as any other on the planet, dominant set piece, monstrous defence, and solid going forward. At a time where NZ are replacing or struggling to get first team games, SA have a settled, young but also growing in experience team that will take them very far at the next RWC.

      Without the backs to walls mentality of the Dunedin game, I cant see the wallabies getting much change out of this one, the SA fly half is in top form, Foley, erm….isn’t, and kicking usually settles these games. Hoping for an engaging contest, expecting SA by 8, too tough, too clinical.

    • Roar Guru

      September 7th 2017 @ 5:37am
      Harry Jones said | September 7th 2017 @ 5:37am | ! Report

      Super young Bokling squad. Take out the Beast’s 90+ caps, Etzebeth’s 50-ish, and Hougaard’s 40 or so, and you got about 125 caps in the game day 23! Also, our wings are contractually exempted from tackling. Underbok underdog baby Boklings.

      • September 7th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Bob Wire said | September 7th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        Harry, you show your concern again about Bok back three defence. Not withstanding B 2 where wallaby defence was slightly better, our defence has some big problems too, I’m looking forward to a tight game!

      • September 7th 2017 @ 9:31am
        ThisHasToEnd said | September 7th 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        In my mind the Boks’ centres are pretty ineffective, they can make their tackles but don’t offer much else, and the wingers are really poor other than their speed.

        There is zero chance of the Wallaby forwards gaining dominance. However, I think the Wallaby forwards only need to gain parity to give us a good chance of winning.

        The Bok forwards can easily gain dominance over Aus. The question is, will they?

        • September 7th 2017 @ 1:23pm
          eeds said | September 7th 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

          I tend to think it’s advantage forward pack to the boks and advantage back line to the wallabies.

          If as you say the wallabies get parity in the forwards I can’t imagine it being too much of a contest. I don’t think for me a single bok would make my combined team.

          The wallabies really need to watch that set piece though… it could all come undone as it so often does if their scrum and line outs are dominated.

          • Roar Guru

            September 9th 2017 @ 10:27am
            PeterK said | September 9th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            Janties > foley, Kriel > Kuridrani

            also Serfontain is a better 12 than Beale but Beale is a better rugby back just playing in the wrong position

      • September 7th 2017 @ 4:18pm
        NOTASaffaSpy said | September 7th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

        I am tired:

        1. Tired of NZ selling our rugby as their own.
        2. Tired of the world telling us how lucky we are to see NZ play, when we ruled the game for 100 years and their recent gains only being aided by the African National Cancer.
        3. I’m tired of SA rugby giving away our money to Aus and NZ when we don’t have the money to keep our young players in the country.
        4. Tired of being forced to play a B&I kind of team every year after NZ pillages Tonga, Samoa and Fiji of their talent.
        5.Tired of our players being forced to watch a Haka that we/they don’t respect and through that giving NZ a mental edge.
        6. Tired of us being the polite guys of world rugby, never willing to say things like we were robbed in ’87, ’91 and 2011.
        7. Tired of WP rugby propaganda in our papers, case and point JdV playing 100 tests and the Bulls putting 50 past the stormers in 2009 and yet Die Rapport rated the Stormers 15 a better total than the Bulls.

        But most of all I am tired of rugby, never thought I’d say it but we are being over fed on polite user friendly rugby.

        So here’s my opinion on it:
        NZ rugby is a game built on cheating, let’s stop playing them.
        If Aus can’t see the Force is a better idea than the Revels let them go broke.
        Let’s stop putting a muzzle on our coaches and let them speak their mind.
        Isolate ourselves again and return to a full 16 team currie cup and a full Carlton before that.
        Lastly let us all just start speaking our minds about the game.
        (I know my rant was off topic, just had it on my chest for some time)

        • September 7th 2017 @ 7:47pm
          nathan smith said | September 7th 2017 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

          hahaha dreamer all blacks rule the world greatest sports team in the history of the world

        • September 9th 2017 @ 10:01am
          zhenry said | September 9th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

          What a pathetic rant. I am not tired but feeling toey myself this morning:
          Your so used to propaganda you wouldn’t know truth from c..p. At least the present govt is redressing the God awful balance and doesn’t go on ‘white’ killing rampages.
          No no the Boks are the foulest and most brutal players on this earth, that’s not being dirty, no such word, foul and brutal is the norm. McCaw didnt complain much but had to complain how SA were accosting him off the ball and from behind, now everyone does it. Thanks SA, no worries the AU media are rewriting history for you and the ABs cop it – nice one recently the farcicle probably rigged bug trial court session on the eve of Sydney ABvAU test, no no no Mr Decent just a coincidence.
          Why don’t you do your Zulu dance as the great Boks did during their 100 years reign?
          Get the picture?

      • September 7th 2017 @ 8:46pm
        Gary said | September 7th 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

        Geez Harry lad , I thought you were predicting +2 = +12 ?

    • September 7th 2017 @ 7:26am
      TheSnake said | September 7th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      All Blacks vs Argentina

      1. Joe Moody (30)
      2. Dane Coles (50)
      3. Nepo Laulala (5)
      4. Luke Romano (27)
      5. Brodie Retallick (66)
      6. Vaea Fifita (1)
      7. Ardie Savea (18)
      8. Kieran Read (102) – Captain
      9. TJ Perenara (35)
      10. Beauden Barrett (55)
      11. Nehe Milner-Skudder (8)
      12. Sonny Bill Williams (38)
      13. Anton Lienert-Brown (15)
      14. Israel Dagg (65)
      15. Damian McKenzie (4)

      16. Codie Taylor (21)
      17. Wyatt Crockett (63)
      18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (6)
      19. Scott Barrett (9)
      20. Sam Cane (46)
      21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (25)
      22. Lima Sopoaga (9)
      23. Ngani Laumape (2)

      • September 7th 2017 @ 4:11pm
        Muzzo said | September 7th 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

        Fingers crossed The Snake.in regards to SBW being over his drop in form. ATM, I would prefer Ryan Crotty, in the second five jersey!!!

    • September 7th 2017 @ 8:18am
      Fishboy said | September 7th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      Good try englishbob, but not a chance. 76 – 0! It still warms our hearts when things are darkest, e.g. 3 – 0.

      Remember the Bundy Push-up Boys? Dressed in Hawaiian shirts, the plan was every time we scored, they’d do the cumulative number of push-ups, and Bundaberg would contribute via some algorithm the money to charity (push-ups x boys x $). By the end, the boys were three or four scores behind, still trying to keep up. Ha ha, what a day.

      So, sorry Bob, no deal. All credit to your guys this year, and the likes of Rob Andrews and Johnny Wilkinson have broke our hearts enough times (stupid penalty goals), that you’ll have to allow us this.

      • Roar Pro

        September 7th 2017 @ 7:48pm
        Andrew said | September 7th 2017 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

        The push-up boys – a classic idea that I feel wouldn’t fly in today’s humourless sports world!

    • Roar Guru

      September 7th 2017 @ 9:27am
      Carlos the Argie said | September 7th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      This is a mystery article for me. I always look forward to these tests. Wallabies, Boks, All Blacks, the three of them beating each other up has always been the matches to watch.

      Or any of them beating up the Poms… 😉

      I am sure it will be a better game than the Pumas-ABs the same day.

      The Boks have improved a lot this year, except for the touch rugby played by a few of them. As Harry points out…but they also have (had?) some head hunters playing for them….

      • September 7th 2017 @ 9:33am
        Fionn said | September 7th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        Remember, Carlos, that the Pumas really pushed the All Blacks in the first test last year for 50-60 mins. It’ll be interesting to see if they are hurting so much that they manage to do the same again.

        • September 7th 2017 @ 3:29pm
          cuw said | September 7th 2017 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

          few guys i play touch with think that the argies are burnt out from the super rugger season.

          some think the travel may be also contributing to the lack of energy.

          add to that the missing guys in europe like Bosch , Isa galarza imoff et al…

          even their super season was nothing to write home about . a lot more was expected once they got acclimatized , but seems it is not happening .

          somethings a miss and its hard to point a finger at…..

    • Columnist

      September 7th 2017 @ 9:30am
      Brett McKay said | September 7th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Nice one Andrew, and you’re certainly right about the Boks rivalry being quickly and easily overlooked.

      I’m really looking forward to the Test – obviously the Wallabies’ performance in Dunedin gives us plenty to be happy about, but the Springboks I think are well advance in their revitalisation; it feels like Alister Coetzee has gone from hopeless to genius in the space of a few weeks.

      The Boks are playing good rugby, and though they might not have the same attacking prowess the ABs do (and who does?), I think the contest is actually really well matched..

      • September 7th 2017 @ 4:17pm
        Pieter said | September 7th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

        The Boks are praised for good coaching this season, but that coaching happens behind the scenes away from the media. What changed from 2016 to now? New assistant coaches in Brendan Venter and Franco Smith. Therein lies the turnaround, as well as the Lions culture rubbing off through Whiteley etc. Whichever way, hope Coetzee learns from his unsung assistant coaches…

          • Roar Pro

            September 7th 2017 @ 6:12pm
            Andrew said | September 7th 2017 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

            Fascinating albeit brief insight into Venter – interesting that they give him credit for laying the foundations for Saracens current success as they are an awesome team to watch. London Irish also had a good start to the season last weekend so maybe he truly does have the midas touch?

            • September 7th 2017 @ 6:30pm
              Pieter said | September 7th 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

              Yes I really found it interesting. Venter is contracted as defense coach at the Boks, so he’s bringing a certain % to the Boks’ rebuilding this year. I think the whole package with Franco Smith as attack coach and Warren Whiteley’s influence in establishing a caring and brotherly culture all plays a part. Maybe Coetzee is the face of the team, he also has to deal with the government politics involved.. We’ll see if the sum of their coaching/management formula stands the test against real opposition during the next 2 games!

              • September 7th 2017 @ 8:02pm
                cuw said | September 7th 2017 @ 8:02pm | ! Report

                but they keep missing the bus still.

                when they could have made WW captain , they gave it to strauss.

                when they could have made Siya Kolisi the captain they gave it to EE.

                it is strange how they seem to have not learnt anything from great Madiba – moments matter!! like when he wore #6 jersey at world cup final.

              • September 7th 2017 @ 10:36pm
                Pieter said | September 7th 2017 @ 10:36pm | ! Report

                Lay those decisions at Coetzee’s feet… EE dong OK and Im glad hes being forced to set an example on discipline, rather than always being involved in off the ball scuffles. WW is being missed. Talking about discipline I hope PSDT (not PTSD) keeps cool when facing Coleman, we dont need a yellow card..

              • September 7th 2017 @ 10:36pm
                Pieter said | September 7th 2017 @ 10:36pm | ! Report

                Lay those decisions at Coetzee’s feet… EE dong OK and Im glad hes being forced to set an example on discipline, rather than always being involved in off the ball scuffles. WW is being missed. Talking about discipline I hope PSDT (not PTSD) keeps cool when facing Coleman, we dont need a yellow card..

        • September 7th 2017 @ 7:29pm
          superba said | September 7th 2017 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

          Yes Pieter , that is it.
          Coetzee is a front , a mouthpiece. A PC one .
          Coaching done by Venter and Smith .
          If not for them it would be 2016 revisited this year.

          • Roar Guru

            September 9th 2017 @ 10:33am
            PeterK said | September 9th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

            certainly looks that way, that the actual coaching is done by the assistants and Coetzee probably does the PC selections.

        • September 9th 2017 @ 12:30pm
          Muzzo said | September 9th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

          It may be good coaching Pieter, but why hasn’t Faff De Klerk, been selected for this game? His game for Sale, he was outstanding, & even mentioned as being one of Sale’s outstanding players. He is a very good No.9.

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