Boks to go back to Soweto?

2011-11-02 14:12
FNB Stadium (File)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - Stand by for a likely “Springboks v All Blacks at Soccer City II”.

My understanding is that, following the highly successful maiden Test match by the national side against their arch-rivals at the near 95 000-capacity venue on the outskirts of Soweto, also known as FNB Stadium, in 2010, another Bok match at the ground looms sooner rather than later.

It could well be confirmed in around a week - when SARU have indicated to Sport24 that the Bok agenda for 2012 ought to be revealed - that the All Blacks, now installed as World Cup champions, will again provide the opposition, and as early as the maiden season of the newly-intended Four Nations competition.

Next year is when Argentina in all likelihood force a renaming of the old Tri-Nations by joining the southern hemisphere party and each country will play six games in the competition, on a home and away basis.

As reported on Sport24 on Tuesday, British tour operators are bracing their customers for likely England Tests at Durban, Johannesburg (presumably Coca-Cola Park) and Port Elizabeth when a three-match series against the Boks is played earlier in the international season, on June 9, 16 and 23.

And there is every chance that when the Four Nations follows, from mid-August, the Soweto superbowl, which hosted the World Cup soccer final in 2010, will see a repeat of the Boks v All Blacks Test played there on August 21 that year, when the visitors won 29-22.

On that occasion, Springbok captain John Smit played his 100th Test, although it was slightly spoiled by his missed tackle on Ma'a Nonu late in the match which led to a winning try for Israel Dagg after South Africa had looked like grabbing a morale-boosting win after leading by five points well into the final quarter.

Yet SARU president Oregan Hoskins was moved to describe it as a “very special occasion” as the packed ground broke the record for largest official home gate for a Bok Test match.

It would make financial sense in a precarious economic climate for South Africa to host at FNB Stadium once more a New Zealand team with the added appeal of visiting for the first time as holders of the Webb Ellis Cup.

It might irk some rugby fans in Cape Town, though, where Newlands traditionally earns best attendances for Super Rugby matches but has drawn a slightly short straw for top-class Tests of late, not having hosted either of New Zealand or Australia since 2009 when the Wallabies were beaten 29-17 in the Tri-Nations.

The All Blacks have not played there since 2008, when they unusually “blanked” the Boks on South African soil in a 19-0 triumph.

There is always the vexing issue in Cape Town of some strong support for New Zealand from sections of the local community, while another school of thought suggests it is best anyway to play the old enemy on the Highveld as much as possible.

Newlands also missed out on a Test – there were three -- when the British and Irish Lions last toured in 2009.

If my information is correct, Newlands may have to settle for Argentina next year, although SARU may try to sweeten the pill, if so, by touting their visit as their maiden fixture on South African soil in the reshaped SANZAR competition.

The Argentineans last played in this country in 2008, when the Boks thrashed them 63-9 in Johannesburg. 

*Follow Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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