Cape Town - All is not lost (yet) for the Springboks.
Heavy underdogs, even before the respective line-ups are revealed, for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash with premier nation New Zealand at Westpac Stadium, at least one statistic gives them a ray of hope.
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Although the record is nothing to jump over the moon about, Wellington is South Africa’s “best” of the four major rugby cities in New Zealand from a results point of view.
The Boks have won three of 13 Test matches (one draw, nine losses) against the All Blacks there, giving them a success percentage of 23.07.
That may seem decidedly ordinary, but it remains a better tally for them than at any of Auckland, Dunedin or Christchurch, the other centres where the vast majority of bilateral meetings on NZ soil have taken place.
The Boks’ record in Auckland is two out of 10 with one draw, so a win percentage of 20; in Christchurch it is 2/9, so 22.22 percent; and in Dunedin 1/9, for 11.11 percent.
So their strike record is better in “windy Welly” than in any of the other three metropolises.
Here’s the less positive news, though: the Boks have not yet won in five attempts since that city’s rugby headquarters moved from Athletic Park - now apparently a retirement village – in the late 1990s to the current, fondly-named “Cake Tin”.
All three of their victories have come at Athletic Park, the last in 1998 under Nick Mallett’s coaching tenure when Pieter “Slaptjips” Rossouw scored his iconic try from a pre-planned, clever in-field burst in the 13-3 triumph marked mostly by the Boks’ utterly dogged defence.
The other Bok wins in Wellington had come during the “demo tour” of 1981 (24-12) and prior to that in 1956 (8-3).
It has mostly been very clear-cut All Black wins at Westpac Stadium in more recent times, although the last one in 2014 was the narrowest: 14-10. (Each team scored one try, Richie McCaw for the hosts and Cornal Hendricks for the tourists.)
In 2011, NZ earned a crushing 40-7 triumph, while the previous results at the ground were 31-17 in 2010, 19-8 in 2008 and 35-17 in 2006.
*New Zealand lead South Africa 32-9 in all wins on their own turf (two draws) and hold bragging rights, including clashes at neutral venues, 57-35 overall. The Boks hold a dangerously shrinking 25-23 edge in South Africa itself.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing