CRAIG LEWIS and DYLAN JACK debate which Bok Test they are most looking forward to in the second half of 2021.
CRAIG LEWIS says the World Cup final rematch against England
You only had to watch the battle – on and off the ball – between Eben Etzebeth and Maro Itoje during the second Test of the Lions series to know there is going to be plenty to look forward to when the Boks next face England.
It will be the first battle between the two arch-rivals since England were humbled in the 2019 World Cup final and both teams will have serious points to prove.
For England, it will be all about redemption, while the Springboks have an opportunity to prove that their World Cup masterclass in Yokohama was not a one-hit wonder.
The Boks head into the clash against England on 20 November after first facing Wales and Scotland in matches that will present plenty of challenges, but also serve as ideal preparation before the headline fixture on their 2021 end-of-year tour.
After the Springboks lost the opening Test to the British & Irish Lions, they bounced back with a resounding victory a week later, proving once again to be at their most dangerous when things get a little personal and emotions are running high.
All those ingredients of ‘emotion’ are sure to be in the mix when the Boks face off against England in a match-up that is always about more than just the rugby.
England coach Eddie Jones will undoubtedly rev up the media mind games in the buildup to the Test, while Twickenham is set to be packed by partisan supporters.
In no uncertain terms, the Boks will be entering a cauldron of hostility. Yet, the fact of the matter is that England finished second to last in the 2021 Six Nations, and they’re unlikely to strike much fear into the South Africans.
Home-ground advantage will be the biggest ally of Eddie Jones’ charges, but the Boks should have the firepower to silence any chants of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’.
DYLAN JACK says the Springboks vs All Blacks 100th-Test anniversary game
Ask any Springbok fan which game they normally look forward to the most on the annual calendar and it will inevitably be the clash with the All Blacks.
However, this year’s match will offer something extra special as it marks the 100th game between the two nations.
This will also be the first battle between the two rivals since they faced off in their opening match of the 2019 World Cup in Tokyo. Famously, the Springboks lost that match but bounced back to go unbeaten through the rest of their campaign and win the Webb Ellis trophy.
Of course, it adds to the spectacle that it’s been over a year since New Zealand and South Africa have faced each other, owing to the Springboks’ withdrawal from the 2020 Rugby Championship.
The Springboks will be more than ready for their age-old rivals this time around, having completed the British & Irish Lions series and faced Argentina (at home) and Australia (away) in two Tests each.
The very concept of a rivalry between these two teams looked to be wavering when the All Blacks claimed successive 41-13, 57-15 and 57-0 victories over the Springboks between 2016 and 2017. Thankfully, when Rassie Erasmus took over as Springbok head coach in 2018, there was something of a resurgence.
The Boks memorably claimed a 36-34 win in Wellington in 2018, their first away victory over the All Blacks since 2009. They then held the New Zealanders to a 16-16 draw at the same venue in 2019, in a game that acted as a warm-up to their World Cup clash.
Both teams will have new head coaches since they last faced each other, as Jacques Nienaber took over the reins from Erasmus, while Ian Foster succeeded Steve Hansen in 2020.
Foster has not had the smoothest start to his tenure, drawing with and losing to the Wallabies last year and suffering a historic loss to Argentina. However, the All Blacks showed a ruthless edge to their game as they claimed convincing wins over Fiji and an understrength Tonga.
If there is one team that can provide the Bok defence with a different type of test to what they have faced so far, it is the All Blacks. The history and the occasion behind the clash should make for a cracking Test.