Springboks

Springboks' risk of first 'dry' year since 1991

2020-04-20 14:50
Siya Kolisi and Cyril Ramaphosa (Getty Images)
Siya Kolisi and Cyril Ramaphosa (Getty Images)

It sounded pretty alarmist, but World Rugby chairperson Bill Beaumont was probably taking a worst-case scenario approach in warning last week of the possibility that there will no further Test activity globally for the rest of the year because of the coronavirus havoc.

Register your interest for the British & Irish Lions tickets in South Africa 2021

If so, however, it would mean the southern hemisphere superpowers, for example, unusually going the entire 2020 calendar year without taking to the field at national-team level ... including a Springbok team especially keen to strut their stuff as World Cup-holders.

That unpalatable event would also signal the first instance since 1991 - not long after the unbanning of the African National Congress - of the Boks being dormant for the entire year. (By way of comparison, fierce rivals New Zealand have not experienced a full calendar-year drought since as far back as 1948.)

South Africa returned to action, during the tangible phase of dismantling apartheid, on 15 August 1992, with that unforgettable Ellis Park drought-breaker against the All Blacks, when a late rally from 27-10 down helped give them a more respectable look on the scoreboard in a 27-24 reverse, but a week later they were on the receiving end more nastily again at a wet Newlands when the Wallabies thumped them 26-3.

SIGN UP | Click to receive Rob Houwing's weekly 'Rucking with Rob' newsletter!

It was a bit of a bloody nose for the more parochial of SA pundits who had naively believed the perceived strength of the domestic Currie Cup during isolation would have kept the Boks right up at the pinnacle of the international game throughout.

The team led by Naas Botha in Johannesburg against Sean Fitzpatrick and company had featured as many as eight new caps among the starters: Robert du Preez, Adri Geldenhuys, Pieter Hendriks, Ian Macdonald, Lood Muller, Pieter Muller, James Small and Theo van Rensburg.

The Boks had been dormant up to that point since 1989, when Test caps were a little dubiously handed out for two matches that year against a cobbled-together "World XV" (though conspicuously lacking in New Zealanders) captained by veteran French scrumhalf Pierre Berbizier.

Led by Jannie Breedt from No 8 and with a line-up still featuring the Du Plessis brothers in the backline, Carel and Michael, the Boks made heavy weather of pipping the combo at Ellis Park (22-16) and Newlands (20-19).

Several years in the 1980s, only indicating the depth of South Africa's pariah status, had featured no Bok Test action: 1988, 1987, 1985 and 1983.

I'm still holding out optimistic hope that Siya Kolisi leads them from the tunnel in 2020. I'd be happy to have a little flutter on that ... you?

*Rob Houwing is Sport24's chief writer. Follow him on Twitter: @RobHouwing

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

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
Vote

Debate rages! Who is the greatest ever Springbok hooker ... John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis or someone else perhaps?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2019/20 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

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.