Cape Town - The All Blacks have welcomed SA Rugby’s decision to host next year’s Rugby Championship match against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld.
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SA Rugby on Monday announced South Africa’s home venues for the 2018 Rugby Championship, with the All Blacks set to return to Pretoria for the first time in more than a decade when they play in Pretoria on October 6.
The Springboks’ other home matches are in Durban against Argentina (August 18) and in Port Elizabeth against Australia (September 29).
The All Blacks though, are unperturbed about playing the Test at Loftus.
Upon announcing the news on their official website, the Kiwis were quick to point to their excellent record in matches at the ground.
Since 1996, the All Blacks have won all four of the Tests played at Loftus, while their only loss at the ground came some 47 years ago in 1970.
They also shrugged off the notion of the venue being intimidating.
A post on the All Blacks.com website reads: “The ground used to be daunting for New Zealand sides, mainly when playing Northern Transvaal sides as they were in the pre-professional days or the Bulls in Super Rugby.
“It was daunting not only because of the configuration of the ground with its high stands rising steeply almost from the sideline, but also the altitude.
“But recent issues for the Bulls have seen that reputation wane while the Test statistics show New Zealand has a healthy record at the ground.”
In 1996, New Zealand won 33-26 at Loftus Versfeld - a game which saw them secure their first Test series win on South African shores.
It was also the last time the two nations had contested a series of three or four Tests. In 1999, the All Blacks won 34-18 in the Tri-Nations (as the Rugby Championship was then called), while in 2003 they inflicted what was then their biggest ever win over the Boks with a 52-16 scoreline.
The last time the two nations met at Loftus was in 2006 when the visitors also won handsomely by 45-26.
The All Blacks also indicated that they had no qualms by playing against the Boks on the highveld.
“Ellis Park, the traditional South African fortress, became the preferred venue of choice between the two countries but New Zealand played in some stunning games to put any bogey associated with the Johannesburg venue behind them also, most notably in the 38-27 win in 2013 and the 27-20 win in 2015. While losing 25-27 in 2014 it was only a late penalty goal that gave South Africa the win.”