A guide to the Springbok Winter Tour
Whether you were born wearing a Rugby jersey, or you have no clue what a “scrum” is, there is no doubt that you have heard about The 2012 Castle Incoming Tour Test Series that has been taking South Africa by storm. If you are a rugby fan, you most likely know all about it, and know that South Africa have already, with a new coach, won the series. However, there is so much more to know.
What is the Mid-Year Test Series?
This series marks the start of the rugby calendar, established by the IRB (International Rugby Board). The Start of the season see’s Southern Hemisphere rugby clash with Northern. So far its all been Southern Hemisphere wins with South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina sealing up their relative series. The only shock was seeing Australia lose to Scotland. A shock to Australia but a reason to cheer and laugh if you back the Boks, Puma’s or All Blacks.
The teams go head-to-head in three test matches as part of about The Castle Incoming Tour Test Series.
Overall, South Africa have played 34 matches against England, and won 21 of them. England have won 12, and ONE match was a draw. This makes South Africa the more succesful!
SA and England have participated in 6 Series – of which SA has won 3, and the teams have drawn 3.
So far in this test series, the Bokke have DOMINATED – winning the first test in Durban ( 22 – 17 ) , and the second test in Johannesburg (36 – 27)
Coca Cola Park
Coca Cola Park, previously known as Ellis park, had its name officially changed after a 450 Million Rand sponsorship deal with Coca Cola. It is located in the south-east of Johannesburg and was one of the first “modern” stadiums to be built in South Africa, with a capacity of 60 000 people. Coca Cola Park is home to Orlando Pirates, and the Lions. SA have only played against England at Coca Cola Park 3 times, of which they have won 2 and lost 1. South Africa also won the 1995 World Cup at Coca Cola Park. Newly appointed Springbok captain Jean de Villiers went on record saying that the Boks want to establish South Africa as a fortress where touring teams find it difficult to ever record a victory.
The Coca Cola Park is said to be quite a challenge to international teams, as it is at altitude. The fact that it is so high above sea level means that the air is thinner than normal, and those not used to it may experience difficulties breathing. This also changes the kicks and can increase distance up to 10 meters.
Who are the men to watch?
The Springboks as they are now, have only been together as a team for TWO WEEKS! That said, the team played extremely well together. Many have criticised coach Heyneke Meyer’s for selecting too many Bulls players. Saying this, the youngster who he has selected have put their hands up and have shown that they are ready for Springbok players.
Some players to watch include the young Eben Etzebeth, the lock that towers at 2m and weighs just under 120kg. He has already made a name for himself at Province and is looking to carry on building his reputation at Springbok level.
The First Test
Although it was a close match, South Africa still came out victorious. The win was the Springboks' EIGHTH consecutive victory over England, dating back to November 2006.
Four of the players on this newly selected team made their test debuts during this match, and started their test careers off with a WIN!
Locks Eben Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger, flank Marcell Coetzee and prop Coenie Oosthuizen were said to have played a MASSIVE role in SA’s win.
Overall, the team worked very well together and applied excellent defence tactics.
The only cause for worry during the first test was selection of fullback Zane Kitchener’s’, oh and his Knee injury, resulting in him being replaced by Pat Lambie.
Lambie delivered a solid game and helped lead the Boks to victory.
Everyone was critical of Francois Hougaard’s performance in the first test – however the halfback was still open to improvement during the second and third test matches.
The Second Test
South Africa brought the fire very early in the second test , leading (15 – 3) in the first 15 minutes of the game beat. Although England managed to catch up in the second half, The Boks were still able to finish with a win. Although, they made it look a lot harder than is should have been.
Heyneke Meyer was ecstatic with his team’s performance. The Boys managed to equal the All Blacks’ record of NINE consecutive wins against England, and are now working on winning the series (3- 0) and locking a record of being the only team to get a perfect score against England.
Although the team gave an overall excellent performance, a few players stood out.
Jannie Du Plessis held the SA scrum together, and as soon as he was substituted it crumbled.
It was said by many that Scrumhalf Francois Hougaards’ performance improved greatly during the second test, as he was quicker and more accurate with his kicks.
Bismarck du Plessis also made momentous improvements from last week's Test in Durban.
Bryan Habanna and Jean de Villiers played a big part in the team’s early supremacy.
JP Pietersen delivered a memorable try that will not be forgotten, and was said to be the highlight of the contest.
Patrick Lambie gave a good, solid performance as usual during the second test, but an ankle injury sent him off earlier than expected.
The Springboks managed to come to a 36-27 through team work, perseverance and all round TALENT.
• The first match between SA and ENGLAND was played in 1906, and resulted in a draw.
• South Africa (Springboks) has never lost in a IRB Rugby World Cup Final.
• In more than 100 years of test rugby, no one has ever scored a hat trick of tries against the Springboks.
• Percy Montgomery & Naas Botha are the only Springboks who have kicked 50 or more conversions in tests.
• Springboks Jannie du Plessis, Brendan Venter, Divan Serfontein, Chris Pope, Dr Edrich Krantz, Uli Schmidt, Dr Daan du Plessis, Derick van den Berg & Ian Mc Cullum are all medical doctors.
• The Springboks have the second-highest winning percentage in test rugby out of all the major test-playing nations.
Make sure you don’t miss the Third and Final test at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth 23 June!