Playing England at Twickenham still presents a daunting task for the Springboks, despite winning there two years ago.
Jake White’s Boks broke a six-match losing streak at English HQ when they conquered the Poms in 2006, and at the same time the overall seven-match winning streak the Poms had over the Boks since 2000. Mentally it was huge, and in the past two years the Boks have reversed the duck and have since beaten England four games in succession.
A win on Saturday would dispel any notion of a Twickenham hoodoo, but history suggests this is not a simple task in South West London. Motivation has been raised as an issue of concern but this would be the victory the Boks envy the most in the northern hemisphere, while fatigue should not be a problem as this is a comparatively short tour to previous sojourns up north.
Keo.co.za looks back at some classic clashes in the English capital between the two teams over the past 10 years.
5 December 1998: England 13 – 7 South Africa
Regarded by some as one of the best Springbok sides ever, the class of ’98 were going in search of a world record-breaking 18th consecutive Test victory.
However, it was a side that was running low on gas and England at Twickenham was always going to be a tough prospect.
There were already signs that the Boks were struggling during their come-from-behind victory over Wales, while they were less then impressive in their record equaling win over Ireland a week prior to the Twickenham encounter.
The Boks started well, scoring the first try of the game through winger Pieter Rossouw but England struck back soon after through Jeremy Guscott – leveling the scores after 12 minutes.
The scores remained level until the 64th minute when two penalties in quick succession from Matt Dawson gave the Poms a six point lead with time running out.
By this time the Springboks were running on fumes and couldn’t find any holes in a well drilled England defence who held on for a well deserved victory – ending South Africa’s quest for world record.
23 November 2002: England 53 – 3 South Africa
England completed a hat-trick of wins over southern hemisphere sides in 2002 with a resounding victory over the hapless Boks.
Before kick off South Africa, having been humiliated by France and Scotland in the run up, were long odds to win the match, but the 23rd minute sending off of Jannes Labuschagne all but ended the game as a contest.
The Lions lock became the the sixth Springbok to be dismissed in a Test when he was shown a red card for late and clumsy shoulder charge on flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson.
South Africa were already 8-0 down by the time Lauschagne was giving his marching orders and once they were down to 14 men the Boks never stood a chance against a clinical England side.
The game was highlighted by a number a late tackles and plenty of rough stuff around the fringes. England coach Clive Woodard later accused the Boks of deliberately trying to hurt his players.
Captain Corne Krige claimed the Poms were themselves guilty of some strong arm tactics – pointing to an injury suffered by Andre Pretorius to support his argument. However, replays later showed Krige was in fact the one responsible for the incident.
The England scrum dominated the Bok pack – providing the perfect opportunity for their backline to run amok.
In the end England, who would go on to win the World Cup the following year, steamrolled the Boks, running in six tries to humiliate Rudolph Straeuli’s side.
18 November 2006: England 23-21 Springboks
Jake White had openly talked about his team’s desire for a win over England at home – this would provide them with the mental ascendancy ahead of the World Cup clash in Paris 10 months later. Victory was non-negotiable, otherwise the Boks would head to the global showpiece with great trepidation.
The Boks had two opportunities to do so on consecutive weekends, but they didn’t arrive in London with much confidence. White had left a few senior Boks behind including Player of the Year nominees Fourie du Preez, Os du Randt and Victor Matfield, while a 32-15 Irish hiding wasn’t the ideal start to the tour either.
However, the Boks dominated the first 45 minutes and ran up an 18-6 lead, which included a 50m drop-goal from Frans Steyn in only his second Test. Butch James was superb in his all-round game, scoring a try after initiating a counter-attack, and setting up one for Akona Ndungane after a deft grubber. He later hobbled off with a knee injury after an hour, but when he left the pitch the Boks were still up 21-13.
Andre Pretorius replaced him and had a nightmare. The flyhalf couldn’t close out the game as his tactical kicking was poor (including not finding touch from penalties) and he gifted the English countless attacking opportunities. England stormed back from the 8-point deficit through a penalty from Andy Goode and a try from substitute Phil Vickery with five minutes left.
25 November 2006: England 14 – 25 Springboks
England manager Andy Robinson had relieved some of the pressure on himself with the win the week before, but question marks still hung over his head due to a loss to Argentina before the Bok series.
It was a week of reversals as it was the Boks this time who had to force a comeback – down 14-3 after half an hour. A CJ van der Linde try on the half-time whistle and conversion from Andre Pretorius capped off a 13-point surge in seven minutes for the Boks, and they never looked back from there.
Pretorius kicked three second half drop-goals to go with one in the first as the Boks dominated the closing stages to claim an elusive win.
The result had different effects for either coach. Robinson was forced to resign, while Jake White had to fight for his job as he was summoned home mid-tour to answer to the infamous President’s Council. The vote of no confidence brought by the Blue Bulls Rugby Union was disregarded, and White was left to lead the team in 2007.
Results Down the Years
1906: Draw 3-3 at Crystal Palace, London
1913: South Africa won 9-3 at Twickenham, London
1932: South Africa won 7-0 at Twickenham, London
1952: South Africa won 8-3 at Twickenham, London
1961: South Africa won 5-0 at Twickenham, London
1969: England won 11-8 at Twickenham, London
1972; England won 18-9 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg
1984; South Africa won 33-15 at Boet Erasmus, Port Elizabeth
1984; South Africa won 35-9 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg
1992: England won 33-16 at Twickenham, London
1994; England won 32-15 at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
1994; South Africa won 27-9 at Newlands, Cape Town
1995: South Africa won 24-14 at Twickenham, London
1997: South Africa won 29-11 at Twickenham, London
1998; South Africa won 18-0 at Newlands, Cape Town
1998: England won 13-7 at Twickenham, London
1999: South Africa won 44-21 at Stade de France, Paris
2000; South Africa won 18-13 at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
2000; England won 27-22 at Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
2000: England won 25-17 at Twickenham, London
2001: England won 29-9 at Twickenham, London
2002: England won 53-3 at Twickenham, London
2003: England won 25-6 at Subiaco Oval, Perth, Australia
2004: England won 32-16 at Twickenham, London
2006: England won 23-21 at Twickenham, London
2006: South Africa won 25-14 at Twickenham, London
2007: South Africa won 58-10 at Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
2007: South Africa won 55-22 at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
2007: South Africa won 36-0 at Stade de France, Paris
2007: South Africa won 15-6 at Stade de France, Paris (World Cup final)
By Grant Ball & Andrew Worling