Allister Coetzee’s Springboks will record yet another unwanted first if they lose to the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld next Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The Boks will be desperate for any sort of win when they host the Wallabies in Pretoria on 1 October. Over the past two years, the Boks have sustained historic losses to Japan, Argentina (home and away) and Ireland. They recently lost 41-13 to the All Blacks in Christchurch, a result that marked their heaviest defeat since 2011.
The All Blacks have already clinched the Rugby Championship title. And yet, there is still plenty to play for in terms of records and log positions. In the penultimate round of the tournament, the Boks will be looking to protect their proud record at Loftus, while the Wallabies will be aiming for their first-ever win at the ground.
Loftus boasts a fearsome reputation. The crowd is typically hostile and partisan, and every team bar the All Blacks considers it a difficult ground to visit.
In fact, the Boks have a better overall record at Loftus than they do at Ellis Park. This may come as a surprise to some given that Ellis Park is considered the spiritual home of South African rugby.
At Ellis Park, the Boks have won 33 of their 48 matches for a win record of 69%. At Loftus, the Boks have won 25 of their 33 Tests for a success rate of 75%.
The Boks have played Australia six times at Loftus, and have won all six. On most occasions, the home side has dominated, and the average score in this fixture is 32-16 in favour of the hosts.
In four of the six matches, the Boks have won by 11 or more points. The last time the two teams met at this venue in 2012, the Boks thumped the Wallabies 31-8.
Coetzee and his coaching staff will hope that the winning run at Loftus continues. The Boks need a lift after losing their last three matches in succession. It may give the team some confidence to know that they’re playing at one of the traditional strongholds of South African rugby.
On the other hand, this may increase the pressure on the Boks. The Wallabies may view this as an opportunity.
While the 2016 Rugby Championship is over as far as the title race is concerned, there’s something to be gained over the next two rounds. Michael Cheika’s team could become the first Australian side to win a Test at Loftus.
The Wallabies could also become the first Test team to win in Pretoria in 10 years. Back in 2006, a Dan Carter-inspired New Zealand hammered South Africa 45-26.
The All Blacks have won four times in Pretoria, while the British Lions have won three times and England once. If Australia prevail on 1 October, they will become only the fourth visiting team to beat South Africa in a Test at this venue.
Overall, the Boks haven’t lost to the Wallabies in South Africa since 2011.
Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix