BATTLE OF THE GIANTS: The Cake Tin curse
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: Wellington used to be a great hunting ground for the Springboks, at least in the pre-Cake Tin days.
However, when New Zealand host South Africa on Saturday, it will be at a stadium where the Springboks have never beaten the All Blacks.
For the first 70-odd years of this intense and great rivalry, Wellington was the most productive New Zealand venue for the Boks.
From 1921 to 1998 – the last time South Africa beat New Zealand in Wellington – the games were played at Athletic Park.
The stadium, located on a windswept hill in Berhampore, had the nickname ‘The Temple of Wind’ – famous for a very steep Millard Stand, which used to sway in the Antarctic winds.
The stand was unsafe as Wellington is very susceptible to earthquakes.
However, Athletic Park the home of rugby since 1896, made way for Westpac Stadium in 1999.
The Boks and All Blacks met seven times at Athletic Park – the Kiwis winning three times, the Boks winning three times and one match – the very first in 1921 – was a draw.
In those years the Boks never lost twice in succession in Wellington.
However, since 2002 – when they met at Westpac, nicknamed the Cake Tin – the All Blacks have won all six encounters.
The Boks have won two matches in the Cake Tin – a fortuitous 17-16 win over Wales and a 49-3 victory over Fiji in World Cup matches in 2011.
However, they also suffered, infamously, a 9-11 loss to Australia in a controversial quarterfinal – refereed by New Zealander Bryce Lawrence.
However, there can be so such qualms about all six of the All Blacks’ victories in the Cake Tin.
Current form suggests the All Blacks will retain their 100 percent record against the Boks in the Cake Tin and that 1998 – with that famous Pieter Rossouw try – will remain the last South African victory over New Zealand in the Kiwi capital.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus will say that the past has no bearing on the present.
But the present will certainly contribute to the statistics of the past.
It is likely the Cake Tin curse will strike again.