Another unwanted record for Boks?

Allister Coetzee’s Springboks could become the first South African team to lose a home series in 19 years, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.

Last Saturday, Ireland made history when they beat the Boks 26-20. The result marked Ireland’s first victory against the Boks on South African soil, and gave them a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.

The Boks have to beat Ireland in Johannesburg this Saturday to level the series. Thereafter, they need to win the third and final match in Port Elizabeth to clinch the rubber and avoid making history for the wrong reasons.

The Boks have never lost a series to Ireland. They have never lost a home series to one of the home nations, namely England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Last Saturday, Ireland captain Rory Best lauded his charges for securing a landmark victory at Newlands. Not many teams beat the Boks in South Africa. As history shows, fewer yet claim series wins.

The Boks returned to the international fray in 1992. Since then, they have hosted 20 teams for a series of two or more matches. During that time, the Boks have won 14 of those series, drawn three, and lost three.

France beat the Boks 1-0 in a two-match series in 1993. Three years later, the All Blacks secured their first-ever series win in South Africa. In 1997, the British & Irish Lions scored a 2-1 triumph. No team has won a series in South Africa since then.

The Boks have been dominant in these series over the past decade or so. They drew the 2001 home series to France. Since then, they have won 11 series in succession.

It’s something for Coetzee’s charges to bear in mind as they prepare for the second Test against Ireland at Ellis Park. They’re not only playing for their survival in the current series, but for a proud record that stretches back nearly two decades.

Overall, 51 Test series involving the Boks have been staged on South African soil (excluding tournaments like the Tri-Nations, Rugby Championship and the World Cup). Of those 51 series, the Boks have won 37, drawn seven, and lost seven.

The Lions and France have won two series apiece in South Africa. New Zealand have won one, while Britain beat the Boks twice in succession in the late 1800s. No individual home nation side has managed a series success in South Africa.

Last Saturday, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said that the win at Newlands ranked as the best of his coaching career. A series win, however, would ensure that Schmidt and his Ireland side join an elite club.

For Coetzee’s Boks, a series loss would see them ranked among the poorer South African sides.

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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Jon Cardinelli