Campbell Burnes sets the scene for the reprise of one of rugby’s great rivalries, which must now take place in the unlikely setting of the eastern seaboard of Australia (pages 10-14).
The All Blacks play the Wallabies more than any other team in world rugby.
They hate to lose to the English more than any other team in world rugby.
They have developed rivalries with eight other teams in world rugby, including the Lions.
But from an historical perspective, in particular, the All Blacks and the Springboks form the ultimate rugby rivalry. They have done so since the early salvoes were fired in 1921. Politics, it is true, have mixed uneasily with sport since those early first encounters. But that has only served to further ramp up the interest.
And now, as we stand on the cusp of the 100th Test match between these two mighty tribes, in the unlikely setting of Townsville, there are several added layers to spice up this eagerly awaited clash of the rugby titans.
For one, the All Blacks have not played the Springboks since Rugby World Cup 2019, a Covid-enforced hiatus of two years. We miss them. They are also RWC holders and the No 1 ranked side in the world, fit to call themselves world champs. They have just emerged victorious from a bitterly contested, bizarre series against the Lions. Their talismanic captain, Siya Kolisi, the first black man to captain the Boks, was man of the series, not long after testing positive for Covid.
Continue this story in our September-October issue.