Springboks v Ireland: An all-green rivalry brewing?
OPINION: A look at the growing rivalry between South Africa and fellow green outfit Ireland.
Now that the dust has settled and the Irish hangover has subsided after their historic series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand, it’s worth noting that the world’s latest No.1 ranked team might form a bigger rivalry with another green outfit from the Southern Hemisphere – the Springboks
These two sides have a long rivalry themselves dating back to 1906 when the South Africans were victorious by 15-12.
Through the years there’s been some stunning as well as some controversial clashes.
Who will forget the 100th anniversary of the Springbok emblem when they wore a special edition jersey against Ireland at Lansdowne Road to mark the occasion and the quick tap penalty that resulted in a try when John Smit was still talking to his troops?
Or when Ireland beat the Springboks for the first time on South African soil in 2016?
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Now Irish rugby seems to be at its strongest it’s ever been. With South Africa ditching Super Rugby and entering the Pro14, which would be rebranded as the United Rugby Championship, the local franchises already started their mini rivalries.
In the semifinals of the URC, the South Africans came out on top when the Bulls beat a heavily fancied Leinster away from home and the Stormers scraped past Ulster to make the Final.
The talks of South Africa possibly joining the Six Nations after 2025 when their broadcast deal with SANZAAR ends is still hot on everyone’s lips.
These sides could be two regular title competitors should that move happen, and it’s worth remembering they will also face off in a pool clash at Rugby World Cup 2023.
It’s a fixture which will have a massive influence on who they might possibly face in the quarterfinals should they reach that stage when South Africa will look to defend their global crown.
Meanwhile, the clash between the two sides later this year at the Aviva stadium is already sold out as well.
All these factors are very much a possibility, and whilst South Africa versus New Zealand will always be the pinnacle of tests in world rugby, Ireland versus South Africa might just be a close second in the coming years.