Springboks

Rugby Championship in Perth would suit Springboks

2020-04-15 13:10
Springboks v Wallabies
Springboks v Wallabies (Gallo Images)

South Africa’s chances of retaining the Rugby Championship crown this year - something they have never yet managed - may have received a significant boost.

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This follows speculation that governing body Sanzaar will consider staging this year’s event at a central venue ... with Perth potentially having top billing for candidacy.

Under normal circumstances, this year's Championship was intended to take place between August 8 and September 27: it should remain roughly within those parameters, assuming health clearance is forthcoming, although it may have to be condensed in some way.

The unusually remotely-located, Western Australia capital is a sensible choice when it comes to all-important, coronavirus-related considerations, while it would also largely satisfy time zone considerations between the four competing countries for live television coverage.

Perth is six hours ahead of Johannesburg, for example, meaning that evening/night kick-offs there translate to agreeable enough midday or early afternoon in South Africa.

The television product would have special value and relevance, after months of rugby dormancy planet-wide, particularly in the high likelihood of the tournament being held entirely or largely behind closed doors.

While spectator-free occasions would deprive the Boks of robust support from the large South African expat community in Perth, they would quickly feel comfortable and welcome in the city itself.

It is also a centre that has proved less intimidating than, for example, Sydney or Brisbane for either the national team or Super Rugby sides from our shores - something often enough reflected in results.

SA outfits in the franchise competition seldom minded either starting or finishing their tough Australasian tours against the Western Force, albeit that the men in blue were controversially evicted from ever-changing Super Rugby after the 2017 tournament.

The Springboks have a solid enough record in Perth where, coincidentally, they were due to play the Wallabies anyway this season as part of their orthodox Championship itinerary on 29 August.

It was pencilled in for the state-of-the-art, 60 000-capacity Optus Stadium, first opened in January 2018.

This would have been the Boks’ first experience of the venue; it is not yet clear which ground(s) would host a centralised Championship if it does end up being played exclusively in Perth.

The Boks have won the Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship four times (2019, 2009, 2004 and 1998) but never in consecutive years - much will be expected of them in 2020 as holders of the World Cup following their exploits in Japan late last year.

South Africa have played 11 Test matches in Perth, stretching back to debut there in 1998 and mostly involving Subiaco Oval.

All but two Bok matches in the city have been against Australia themselves.

While their win tally of four from 11 (or 36.36 percent) may not sound too wonderful at first glance, it has to be taken into account that a further two games - both times against the Wallabies - have been drawn, so the Boks have lost slightly fewer Test matches (five) in Perth than they have played, which is a better return than from many other rugby centres for them across the planet.

Tests between Australia and South Africa, specifically, in Perth have a near-constant reputation as nail-biters, too: the widest margin that one has ever beaten the other by in that city is seven points.

The only two Bok Tests in Perth not involving Australia as opponents came in the space of a week during the 2003 World Cup - not one of South Africa’s finest - when they first thrashed minnows Uruguay 72-6 but then vitally crashed 25-6 to eventual champions England in pool play.

All Springbok Test results in Perth (from most recent):

2017: Australia 23 South Africa 23

2014: Australia 24 South Africa 23

2012: Australia 26 South Africa 19

2009: Australia 25 South Africa 32

2008: Australia 16 South Africa 9

2005: Australia 19 South Africa 22

2004: Australia 30 South Africa 26

2003: South Africa 72 Uruguay 6 (RWC)

2003: England 25 South Africa 6 (RWC)

2001: Australia 14 South Africa 14

1998: Australia 13 South Africa 14

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

 

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Fixtures
Saturday, 04 July 2020
South Africa v Scotland, Cape Town 17:05
Saturday, 11 July 2020
South Africa v Scotland, Jonsson Kings Park Stadium 17:05
Saturday, 18 July 2020
South Africa v Georgia, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 17:05
Saturday, 08 August 2020
South Africa v Argentina, Emirates Airline Park 14:00
Saturday, 15 August 2020
Argentina v South Africa, Estadio Bicentenario 21:45
Saturday, 29 August 2020
Australia v South Africa, Optus Stadium 14:00
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