NZ Tests: SARU alters course

2014-12-12 14:00
Springboks v All Blacks (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The Springboks potentially playing premier rivals the All Blacks in cities like this one and Port Elizabeth again from 2016, even as they remain relative bastions of support for the visitors, is the right move by the South African Rugby Union.

In announcing the domestic centres for Bok games in the curtailed 2015 calendar - given the presence of another World Cup from September - SARU simultaneously revealed through CEO Jurie Roux that from the following year onward, the current world champions and No 1-ranked power would no longer necessarily be restricted to Highveld centres.

It has been the norm in recent seasons (since 2012) for South Africa to host the New Zealanders exclusively in Johannesburg - whether at Ellis Park or FNB Stadium - and the trend continues for a fourth time next year as the former venue, now to be renamed Emirates Airline Park, stages the single-round clash between the foes in the reduced Castle Lager Rugby Championship on July 25.

The trend has been influenced in part by the belief that it is best to play the All Blacks at lung-busting high altitude, but also by the significant presence in the two major Cape Test centres of NZ-partial inhabitants there, which can cause near-inevitable tensions at times.

But the first reason has lost much lustre given that the New Zealanders have won three of the last four clashes in the Big Smoke (sometimes very comfortably), and were only pipped 27-25 by a last-gasp, long-range Pat Lambie penalty goal in the latest, dead-rubber meeting earlier this year.

The hard, fast surfaces in the interior of South Africa actually appear to aid the All Blacks’ fluid, 15-man style of play.

Newlands, traditionally one of the best-attended venues in the country both for Tests and at other levels, has been given a wide berth for NZ Tests since 2008, when the All Blacks won 19-0, although the Boks had won the previous Capetonian encounter 22-16 in 2005.

Port Elizabeth, another centre where the All Blacks - more often to their bemusement than genuine pleasure – attract quite strong backing from home-town folk, hosted them in 2011, when South Africa prevailed 18-5, so it is not as though that support serves as an irresistible factor in NZ favour.

Roux said that the recent policy of restricting the All Blacks to Johannesburg had been reviewed after compelling cases put forward by unions like the Sharks and Western Province for getting that particularly attractive slice of the Test-match pie back.

The fixture would be moved around the country again from 2016 onward, he confirmed.

Given South Africa’s often stormy, divided heritage, a lobby supporting overseas teams (and especially the globally crowd-pleasing All Blacks) was always likely even following the fall of apartheid, and it is not showing any special signs of dispersing yet.

It is the democratic right of “Cape All Blacks” and “Cape Crusaders” fan bases to exist, regardless of how distasteful or bewildering many South Africans find the trend, and really the best way to deal with it is to simply wear the green and gold and sing for the Bok cause with special gusto as a counter.

Taking South Africa v New Zealand Test matches back into the hotspots of “Cape All Blacks” is better than effectively bowing to that lobby - to the detriment of the tens of thousands in those centres firmly behind the Boks anyway - by sheepishly side-stepping grounds like Newlands or Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Besides, just because New Zealand Tests have been solely in Johannesburg of late is no deterrent to busloads of SA-based All Blacks enthusiasts from the coast, in particular, making the trek.

The Boks should be able to unashamedly play wherever their home supporters, regardless of location, wish to see them and not be hijacked or, at the very least, embarrassed by any rival-leaning influences.

Putting All Black Tests back in a broader South African scheduling pot is the right thing to do.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  all blacks  |  rugby championship  |  rugby

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

05 November 2016
Barbarians v South Africa, London 15:00
12 November 2016
England v South Africa, Twickenham 16:30
19 November 2016
Italy v South Africa, Stadio Artemio Franchi 15:00
26 November 2016
Wales v South Africa, Millennium Stadium 19:30

Did Stormers and Springboks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit deserve to be named SA Rugby Player of the Year?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.