All to play for

The Springboks have never beaten the French at Newlands.

The good news is that the French have also not managed to beat the Boks at the famous old stadium either. Both Tests between the bitter rivals at Newlands have ended in draws.

Thus, apart from it being the first real Test of the year – no offence to the Scottish intended – the Boks need a victory to become the sole owners of the longest unbeaten Bok home run in history as well as claim superiority at Newlands over France.

“We pride ourselves on our home run and the only slight blemish is the draw against France in Durban last year,” assistant coach Allister Coetzee told keo.co.za.

“There is a lot riding on this game after we also lost to them in Paris on the end of year tour. We really want to redeem ourselves for that defeat.”

At Newlands, the last match between the two came way back in 1967 in the final match of a four-Test series. After the Boks won the first two Tests, the French pulled a game back in Johannesburg to trail 2-1, ensuring the home team needed at least a draw at Newlands to win the series. And they did, 6-6.

The only other Test at the ground between the two was drawn 3-3 in 1958. On Saturday, the Boks do not want to leave it that close as they aim to stretch their unbeaten home run to a record 14 in-a-row.

“It’s going to be very tight. We both have solid packs, but I think they would probably start as favourites because we lost some of our momentum in the second Test against Scotland,” said Coetzee.

And the shock loss of Schalk Burger for the rest of the season will not only impact on the dynamics of the loose trio for such an important game, but will also weight heavily on the psyche of the players.

“We set out every weekend to progress and we let ourselves down in PE. We know we need to win and win well at Newlands.”

By Andrew Hollely