Ahead of the three-Test series this June, Crashball Rugby writer Graeme Peacock recalls some of the most memorable clashes between England and the Springboks over the years.
They are two of the most successful rugby nations in the history of the game, and there have been some unbelievable clashes between England and South Africa.
This summer should be no different between two teams that are currently in transition, one more so than the other, it is an important series for both teams with the Rugby World Cup in Japan not too far down the track.
It was not so long ago that Eddie Jones’ side looked unbeatable until an extremely disappointing Six Nations where they finished fifth after successive losses to Scotland, France and Ireland.
South Africa have appointed a new coach in Rassie Erasmus after an extremely disappointing set of results under Allister Coetzee and will be looking to get his tenure off to a winning start.
The series in June has all the potential to be a mouthwatering tour, here we look at five epic encounters between these two great rugby nations.
England 33 – 16 South Africa (Twickenham, 14 November 1992)
South Africa had just been re-introduced to international sport after the abolishment of apartheid. The Springboks first overseas tour since isolation included a drawn two match series against France and then on to Twickenham to finish off the tour.
A comprehensive victory by England in a four-try-to-one demolition job meant that South Africa realised they had a lot of ground to make up after the “lost” years. South Africa’s forwards laid a good platform in the first half and the Springboks were leading 16-11 at half time which included a try by Tiaan Strauss.
However twenty-two unanswered points including tries by Will Carling, Jeremy Guscott and Dewi Morris meant that the Five Nations champions were to completely dominate in the second forty minutes. The Springboks were forced in to too many penalties and errors by an extremely strong England side. This was to be final game in the Green and Gold for Springbok legends Naas Botha and Danie Gerber.
England 9 – 27 South Africa (Newlands, 11 June 1994)
The 1994 tour by England to South Africa was an extremely interesting tour. Will Carling’s side had a string of disastrous results against provincial opposition and went in to the first Test as underdogs. Much to everybody’s surprise England completely blew the Springboks away in the first Test 32-15 at Loftus Versveld.
The second Test was to see a backlash from the home side, and they delivered a combative performance starting up front with an aggressive pack that bossed the collisions in front of a packed crowd in Cape Town.
Tries by Andre Joubert and Hennie Le Roux in a two-tries-to-nil victory meant that the 1994 series was shared in what was seen as good preparation for England for the World Cup in South Africa the following year. This series showed that both England and South Africa would have major parts to play in the major showpiece in 1995.
England 13 – 7 South Africa (Twickenham, 5 December 1998)
South Africa arrived at Twickenham on the back of 17 consecutive wins and Nick Mallett’s charges had swept all before them on the end of year tour. England however was determined to stop this impressive Springbok run of results.
The home side were courageously led by Lawrence Dallaglio in this gutsy performance and a solitary try by Jeremy Guscott and two penalties by scrum-half Matt Dawson were enough to get England over the line in this fiercely contested battle. An early try by Pieter Rossouw that was converted by Percy Montgomery was all that the Springboks could muster.
The game was free flowing and scintillating to watch even though the scoreboard doesn’t reflect it. South Africa were devastated by the fact that they could not break the record after Clive Woodward’s forward pack had proved the difference between the two sides, after the game England coach Clive Woodward stated “Our forwards were fantastic.”
England 6 – 15 South Africa (Stade De France, 20 October 2007)
There is no bigger stage than World Cup Final and this match had all the drama fitting for the ultimate stage. England had been put to the sword in the group stages and seemed to be heading for an early exit. Some straight talking during the course of the tournament led to a change of fortune and they worked their way through to the final in Paris.
As is usually the case in a final it wasn’t the fluid game that everybody wanted to see, it was attritional but at the same time entertaining to watch. Four Percy Montgomery penalties added to a monster Frans Steyn penalty was enough to give South Africa victory.
Jonny Wilkinson slotted two penalties in response for England. The closest this game came to a try was where Mark Cueto was adjudged to be in touch after a sublime break by Mathew Tait. In what seemed like an eternity the TMO felt that the England winger had touched the line and disallowed the try.
Victor Matfield dominated the lineout and was Man of the Match in a victory which saw the Springboks crowned world champions.
England 25 – 6 South Africa (Subiaco Oval, 18 October 2003)
This was England’s greatest rugby side and they went about this result with the precision it required. The two sides met in Pool C and the winner would have the easier route to the final.
The result was never in doubt for Martin Johnson and his men as they swept aside a Springbok side in an efficient manner. England were not at their best in this encounter but it shows what a superb side they were that it was still a comfortable victory.
An opportunistic try by Will Greenwood after a Lewis Moody charge down as well as twenty points from the Jonny Wilkinson boot set England on their way to World Cup glory.
It was a tough and aggressive up front as always is the case between these two sides and the better conditioned England side held the upper hand. Two penalties by Louis Koen was all the Springboks had to show from an encounter where they were well and truly beaten.