Rugby World Cup: All Blacks vs Springboks history spiced with intensity and intrigue
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ANALYSIS: It was at a hotel at Disneyland in Tokyo where Rassie Erasmus gently applied the flames to the toes of Jerome Garces in 2019.  

Frenchman Garces, who was to referee the first game of the World Cup tournament between the All Blacks and Springboks in Yokohama, got the equivalent of the Erasmus voodoo doll treatment prior to the big showdown between the southern hemisphere heavyweights.

Springboks coach Erasmus suggested the days of the All Blacks potentially benefiting from marginal refereeing calls should come to an end. It was hardly explosive stuff, but when that line was plucked out and carefully scrutinised in isolation, it was glaringly obvious what Erasmus was banging on about.

Erasmus was putting pressure on Garces not to lean towards the All Blacks when making 50-50 calls, and in the game of rugby, where the interpretations of the law can be so contentious, especially at the breakdown, this was important.

All Blacks coach Sir Steve Hansen reckoned Erasmus was out of order.

Hansen, like Erasmus, did his share of shadow-boxing on the topic. He opted to play the role of the avuncular rugby uncle who understands the ref can't always get everything right, saying we are capable of making mistakes and how about we all just get on with things?

But, make no mistake, Hansen wasn't happy. Erasmus' attempts to massage the official into thinking he had best not favour the All Blacks in any capacity was a cheap shot.

Now, four years down the track, things have changed.

Hansen retired from coaching the All Blacks after that tournament, while Erasmus has shuffled into a director of rugby role to allow his friend Jacques Nienaber to be coach of the Springboks.

Don’t dare believe Erasmus has removed himself from action. Far from it. He's still pulling the strings.

On Sunday morning (NZT) he will be frantically doing just that, when the Springboks meet the All Blacks in the World Cup final in Paris.

The two great rivals have history at this tournament.


Springboks 15 All Blacks 12

The match in Johannesburg is still considered one of the greatest finals.

It began with Nelson Mandela meeting the players at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, and ended with an emotional Springboks captain Francois Pienaar slumping to the turf after ref Ed Morrison called time.

Joel Stransky kicked the winning drop goal in extra-time to give the Boks the win.

It was the first time the Springboks had played in the tournament, having been barred from previous events because of the South African government's racist laws.

No tries were scored. Andrew Mehrtens kicked all the All Blacks' points, Stransky did the same for his team.

Some All Blacks were ill, vomiting and diarrhoea kept the team doctor busy, which led to allegations of food poisoning by coach Laurie Mains. It was never proved correct, or otherwise.

The All Blacks' meanest, most fearsome weapon was monster wing Jonah Lomu. He scored four tries when they smashed England in the semifinal but not even he could pierce the green and yellow barrier in Jo'burg.

Controversial South African rugby administrator, Louis Luyt, later labelled the All Blacks “whingers’’.

It was a great occasion for South African rugby, but the sport was better off without Luyt.


Springboks 22 All Blacks 18

This bronze medal game in Cardiff was a grim affair for the All Blacks.

Emotionally drained after the shock defeat to France in their semifinal a week earlier, the All Blacks, led by skipper Taine Randell, couldn't be accused of not wanting to win.

It was as if some rascal had unplugged their power source, however, as for all their endeavour they simply weren't up to the task.

Mehrtens scored all of the All Blacks' points, kicking six penalties.

It was John Hart's final game in charge of the All Blacks. Loose forward Randell stayed in the team, but surrendered the captaincy.


All Blacks 29 Springboks 9

When the All Blacks won this quarterfinal in Melbourne, it seemed the big black locomotive was right on track to qualify for the final.

No chance. But more on that later.

The All Blacks, with playmaker Carlos Spencer keen to unleash his magic tricks at any moment, were far too good for the Springboks at Docklands Stadium. They scored three tries, while the Springboks could only slot three penalties by Derick ​Hougaard.

It was the first time the All Blacks, who started Leon MacDonald at centre because Tana Umaga had a knee injury, had beaten the Springboks at a World Cup.

A week later the All Blacks crashed to a 22-10 defeat to the Wallabies in the semi in Sydney.

The locomotive had been derailed, again.


All Blacks 20 Springboks 18

It was in Guildford, south-west of London, where Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer started laying it on thick about the All Blacks.

Meyer, during his team-naming ahead of the semifinal at Twickenham, went into overdrive as he gushed about the All Blacks, trying everything he could to remove pressure and expectation from his players.

All Blacks coach Hansen scoffed about his mate Meyer trying that old trick: "They will want to rip our heads off,'' Hansen said.

There was no violence during the match, but it was rugged and intense. Blindside flanker Jerome Kaino was yellow carded but not for a high shot; he illegally kicked the ball near a ruck.

Despite his absence, the All Blacks still managed to log three points when Dan Carter kicked a drop goal. A week later the All Blacks beat Australia in the final.

Sam Cane, Dane Coles, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett played in this semi. All are expected to be in the match-day 23 for the final in Paris.


All Blacks 23 Springboks 13

A win for the All Blacks in the opening pool game in Yokohama, but it was the Springboks who did the victory jigs at the end of the event.

Lots of kicking by the All Blacks, mostly through halfback Aaron Smith and later TJ Perenara, was on offer. It was cat-and-mouse stuff and the Springboks suffered due to their inability to withstand the pressure.

Scott Barrett and George Bridge scored tries for the All Blacks.

The victory earned the All Blacks the right to qualify top of their pool, beating Ireland in their quarterfinal. They were pounded by England in the semi and forced to meet Wales in the bronze medal game.

The Springboks, meanwhile, pushed aside Japan and Wales in their sudden-death games. They took apart England in the final.