South Africa vs New Zealand History

South Africa (Springboks) and New Zealand (All Blacks), whose rivalry is of epic proportion, first met at test level in 1921.

New Zealand opened the series with a 13-5 victory in Dunedin although South Africa came back to win the second test 9-5. The final test ended in a 0-0 draw, a rarity between these two countries, and the series was shared.

Already it was clear that the rivalry between the two was like no other. The next test series took place in South Africa in 1928. Again it ended all square.

South Africa won the first and third tests in Durban 17-0 and Port Elizabeth 11-6  and the All Blacks won in Johannesburg 7-6 and Cape Town 13-5.

South Africa scored their first test series win over the All Blacks in 1937.

While they went down 13-7 in the series opener in Wellington, they came back to record a 13-6 win in Christchurch and sealed the contest with a 17-6 triumph in Auckland.

In 1948 New Zealand returned to South African soil for a four-test series.

Led by Felix du Plessis in the first three matches and by Basil Kenyon in the fourth, South Africa achieved a series whitewash, winning 15-11 in Cape Town, 12-6 in Johannesburg, 9-3 in Durban and 11-8 in Port Elizabeth.

New Zealand turned the tables on the Springboks seven years later, winning the 1956 series 3-1. The All Blacks won 10-6 at Dunedin, but the Springboks fought back to win the second in Wellington 8-3. The home side responded with a 17-10 victory in the third encounter in Christchurch and finished the visitors off with an 11-5 win in Auckland.

The 1960 series in South Africa could have gone either way. The Springboks won the first encounter 13-0 at Ellis Park.

The All Blacks struck back with an 11-3 win at Newlands and an 11-11 scoreline in the third test in Bloemfontein set up a thrilling final clash. The Springboks won by 8 points to 3 to secure their second series win on home soil and their third in all against their traditional rivals.

New Zealand raced into a 2-0 lead in the 1965 series, winning 6-3 and 13-0 in Wellington and Dunedin respectively.

While the Springboks came back to record a narrow 19-16 win in Christchurch, the home side produced a spectacular finale to beat South Africa 20-3 in Auckland for a 3-1 series victory. It was New Zealand’s second series triumph against South Africa.

In the eight tests played on South African soil in the 70’s, South Africa won 6 and New Zealand 2. The Springboks scored back-to-back 3 -1 series victories in 1970 and 1976. In 1970, they won 17 – 6, 14 – 3 and 20 -17 in the first, third and final tests while the All Blacks won the second clash 9 -8. In 1976, South Africa again won tests 1, 3 and 4 by margins of 17 – 6, 15 – 10 and 15 – 14. The All Blacks won 15 – 9 in the second test.
If the 70’s belonged to the Springboks, the 80’s and 90’s have belonged to the All Blacks. The controversial 1981 test series, with the famous “flour bomb” test, might be recorded more for its political significance than for anything else, but the record books show that the All Blacks won the series 2 -1. They beat the Boks 14 – 9 in Christchurch, lost 24 – 12 in Wellington and finished with a narrow 25 -22 win in Auckland.
The series hastened South Africa’s descent into isolation and it was to be 11 years before the two old foes would go into battle again. South Africa re-entered the international arena in 1992. In a one-off test at Ellis Park, the All Blacks beat the Springboks 27 – 24 providing a rude awakening and a realisation of the ground that had been lost since the two countries last met in 1981.
The next series, in 1994, was to be as painful for the Boks. The All Blacks tied up the series in the first two tests, winning 22 – 14 and 13 – 9. The final test ended in an 18-all draw.
One of the most famous clashes between the Springboks and the All Blacks took place at Ellis Park on 24 June 1995. In a Rugby World Cup final that captured the attention of the world and had two entire nations on the edge of their seats for more than 2 hours, South Africa emerged victorious by 15 points to 12. It was a match that renewed and intensified the rivalry between the two teams.
1996 will go down as the All Blacks’ greatest year of competition against South Africa. They won four out of five tests played, securing their first away test series win over South Africa. In the three test series, Sean Fitzpatrick’s team won 23 – 19 and 33 – 26 in the first two games and lost 32 – 22 in the third. In the Tri-Nations, New Zealand recorded 15 – 11 and 29 – 18 victories.

In 1997 New Zealand were again the better of the two, winning their Tri-Nations games 35 – 32 and 55 – 35. In the 49 clashes to date, South Africa has scored 648 points to New Zealand’s 654.

The most points scored by New Zealand in a victory over South Africa were 55 during last year’s Tri-Nations. It was also the biggest ever margin of victory over South Africa.

The 32 points scored in the third test in 1996 was South Africa’s highest winning score while the record points margin dates back to 1928 when they won 17 -0

Tries scored 158; Tries conceded 230; Highest score 46-40 in Johannesburg (2000);
Biggest win 17-0 in Durban, 1928. Win % 37%.

Springbok record against New Zealand:

Played 104, Lost 62, Won 38, Drawn 4. Points for 2 178, Points against: 1 694. Tries scored 160, Tries conceded 234. Highest score 46-40, Biggest win 17 points (17-0 in 1928). Win %: 37%.


  • South Africa and New Zealand have only faced another once at Twickenham in 2015 – a match the All Blacks by two points (20-18).
  • Canan Moodie will start his first Test for the Springboks at centre.
  • Siya Kolisi needs to score one more try to reach 10 Test tries and 50 points.
  • Malcolm Marx needs one try to become the sole record holder for the most Test tries by a Springbok forward – he currently shares the record with Schalk Burger.


  • The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 746.
  • There are 155 caps in the backline, with 591 caps among the forwards. On the bench there are a further 298 caps.
  • The average caps per player in the backline is 22, the forwards 73, while the players on the bench average 37.
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