Loftus is All Blacks' favourite hunting ground in SA
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: Handré Pollard and his Blue Bulls teammates will experience the thrill of a sell-out Loftus Versfeld for the first time in their careers.
However, the Boks will require more than just the home crowd, as Pretoria is one of New Zealand’s favourite hunting grounds in South Africa.
The poor form of the Bulls in recent years has resulted in a decline in spectators at the iconic venue – which meant players like Pollard, Rudolf Snyman, Marco van Staden, Trevor Nyakane, Jesse Kriel, Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl have been playing in front of ever-diminishing crowds in Pretoria.
The Bok flyhalf admitted he has never seen the ‘House Full’ signs go up for a game that he played at Loftus.
“I am looking forward to it,” Pollard told a media briefing, adding: “In 2014 or 2015 we ‘almost’ had a full-house against the Sharks in a Super Rugby game.
“I can imagine – Loftus, Springboks against the All Blacks, full-house – it will be unbelievable.
“It is something we have often spoken about, to play at a full Loftus. It’s a dream that will come true on Saturday.”
The All Blacks will celebrate the sell-out crown as much as the Boks, as Loftus has been their most prolific South African venue – despite the perception that Cape Town is where they win most often.
This will be the sixth time the two giants of the game will meet in Pretoria. Of the five previous encounters, New Zealand won four.
South Africa’s only win was way back in 1970 and since the Boks’ re-admission in 1992 the All Blacks have a 100 percent winning record at Loftus.
Port Elizabeth hold the distinction of being South Africa’s best venue against New Zealand – with the Boks having won all five matches in the coastal city.
Johannesburg comes in second – with the Boks having won nine of their 16 encounters for a 52.2 percent success rate. Two of the All Blacks’ victories were at Soccer City in Soweto. At Ellis Park, the Boks (with nine from 14) have a 64 percent success rate. Since 1992 the Boks have won five from 11 matches (45 percent) in Johannesburg. That includes the two defeats in Soweto.
Durban is next best, with five wins from nine matches (55.6 percent), but just two from six since 1992 (33 percent).
Bloemfontein has seen the All Blacks just three times – with one win each and draw. The Boks’ only win in Bloemfontein has been after re-admission.
Cape Town is indeed a popular venue for the All Blacks – both because of their success rate and the enormous support they get from the locals. In the 10 encounters at Newlands, the Boks have won just three times (30 percent) and they have won just once in five matches since re-admission (20 percent).
And, as stated above, Loftus is the venue in SA where the All Blacks have been most successful – four wins from five matches and all four since 1992.
* Graphics courtesy of Pick and Go