Cape Town - If the Springboks are to topple defending champions the All Blacks in their enormous RWC 2019 opener at Yokohama next Saturday, they will simultaneously have to dent a proud tournament record by the New Zealanders.
That is because their foes - as much as being most frequent winners of the Webb Ellis Cup with three titles - are renowned for traditionally getting out of the blocks superbly at the event.
They sport a perfect, eight-out-of-eight win record from their RWC openers, stretching back to the first World Cup played on their own soil in 1987.
More often than not in that context, they dish out a serious thumping to their first pool opponents too: the All Blacks boast an average "points for" tally in opening RWC games of 48.6, while only leaking an average of 11.6.
A noticeable common denominator is Italy: the European side have had to face the might of the New Zealanders three times in opening pool clashes ... and conceded at least 70 points each time.
It began in that maiden 1987 World Cup, when the All Blacks won 70-6 at Eden Park (12-0 in tries, at a time when a dot-down was only worth four points).
Their next opener against each other was in 2003, when NZ won 70-7 at Melbourne, and four years later in Marseille it was 76-14, including a hat-trick of tries to captain and iconic loose forward Richie McCaw.
Probably the most demanding opener the All Blacks have had to this point - though Saturday is widely tipped to repeat that trend - was in the 1991 tournament, where they had to face one of several host nations that year, England, in their full-house Twickenham stronghold.
But NZ ground out an 18-12 triumph against the defending then-Five Nations champions, nevertheless, legendary flanker Michael Jones registering the only try of the contest.
Their opening fixture at the last World Cup in 2015 wasn't a walk in the park, either: Argentina provided the opposition at the normally football venue of Ashton Gate in Bristol and were subdued 26-16, helped by Dan Carter's 16 points and 100 percent record off the tee. (The Pumas would later lose to the Boks in the bronze medal match.)
But what of the Boks themselves in RWC openers?
They had also been going great guns with a five-from-five win record (they'd been absent from the first two RWCs played), up to the disastrous 2015 reverse, by 34-32, at the hands of massively unfancied Japan at Brighton.
South Africa were stunned on that occasion, despite dominating the try count 4-3, by substitute outside back Karne Hesketh's touchdown in the corner well after the siren to snatch the spoils for the Brave Blossoms, although they recovered commendably to be bronze-medallists at that tournament.
Easily the most memorable of the Boks' RWC opening matches before that one, naturally, was the 27-18 triumph over Australia in front of Nelson Mandela at a sun-baked Newlands in May 1995, the try by left wing Pieter Hendriks when he swerved gracefully past David Campese an especially unforgettable moment from it.
Like the All Blacks, there have been some biggies in SA favour at the outset of World Cups: these include 46-29 over Scotland at their own Murrayfield in 1999, the 72-6 Perth romp over Uruguay in 2003 (including try hat-trick from the late Joost van der Westhuizen), and 59-7 over Samoa in Paris at RWC 2007, when a smoking Bryan Habana ran riot with four dot-downs.
The most nail-biting Bok win in an opening fixture was the 2011 one against Wales in Wellington, when it took reserve wing Francois Hougaard's final-quarter try to clinch a slightly fortuitous 17-16 result.
South Africa average 42.1 points from all their World Cup opening matches, with 18.3 against.
Boks in opening matches:
1995: beat Australia 27-18; 1999: beat Scotland 46-29; 2003: beat Uruguay 72-6; 2007: beat Samoa 59-7; 2011: beat Wales 17-16; 2015: lost to Japan 34-32.
All Blacks in opening matches:
1987: beat Italy 70-6; 1991: beat England 18-12; 1995: beat Ireland 43-19; 1999: beat Tonga 45-9; 2003: beat Italy 70-7; 2007: beat Italy 76-14; 2011: beat Tonga 41-0; 2015: beat Argentina 26-16.
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