Springboks v All Blacks: Altitude advantage?
SPOTLIGHT: When South Africa host New Zealand in Nelspruit next Saturday, August 6, it will resume one of the longest-standing and most intense rivalries in the game.
It is the start of the 2022 Rugby Championship – with back-to-back games at the Mbombela Stadium and Ellis Park a week later.
Hosting the games at these venues supposedly gives the Springboks the ‘advantage’ of altitude.
Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium, at just under 700 metres, is an unknown factor, with these teams having never clashed in Nelspruit before.
However, the Lowveld capital is hardly a match for Ellis Park’s altitude of 1,700 metres.
The two countries have met on 101 previous occasions, 50 of those in South Africa.
The Boks and All Blacks have net 26 times at up-country venues – Ellis Park, Loftus Versfeld, Bloemfontein, Soweto and Rustenburg.
Ellis Park has certainly been South Africa’s most successful hunting ground. Of the 14 encounters at this venue, the Boks have won nine and the All Blacks five.
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Loftus and Soweto are the Boks’ least favourite grounds.
They have met six times in Pretoria, with New Zealand winning five and the Boks just once – a 17-6 victory back in 1970.
The All Blacks have won both encounters in Soweto.
Bloemfontein has hosted three Tests between the two arch-rivals – with one win each and a draw.
There has been one clash in Rustenburg, which was won by the Boks.
On home soil, the Boks do have a slight edge – with 25 wins, 24 defeats and a draw.
Another interesting stat is just how close contests have been between the two since the combination of Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber has taken over.
Only one match in that period has produced a margin of more than two points –
Four of those games had a two-point margin and one was a draw.
The matches will also have an impact on the World rankings for both teams.
South Africa, third currently, could return to second in the rankings with a win and New Zealand could overtake the Boks in third place if they win.