New Zealand and South Africa are set to face each other in the Rugby World Cup final at the Stade de France this Saturday. The All Blacks currently hold a three-to-two advantage in their head-to-head meetings at the quadrennial rugby event. Let’s take a look back at these encounters:
1995 – The Pienaar/Mandela Moment
In 1995, a historic and unifying moment took place when Nelson Mandela presented the World Cup trophy to white Springbok captain Francois Pienaar. This iconic rugby image marked a significant turning point for the sport in post-apartheid South Africa. Despite the New Zealand team, led by the formidable Jonah Lomu, appearing unbeatable, they were defeated in extra time, with Springbok fly-half Joel Stransky’s drop goal securing a 15-12 victory. However, the celebratory atmosphere was marred by Louis Luyt’s controversial remarks, causing the New Zealanders to leave the post-match dinner.
1999 – The ‘Kissing Your Grandmother’ Final
In the 1999 World Cup, New Zealand and South Africa met again, but this time in a less desirable context, the third-place playoff. The Springboks won 22-18, with the only try of the match. New Zealand’s morale had suffered due to a disappointing semifinal loss to France, making this match an unappealing prospect. Andrew Mehrtens of the All Blacks likened it to “having to lip kiss your grandmother” and noted that it was a game no one wanted to play.
2003 – ABs Finally Taste Success
In the 2003 quarter-finals, New Zealand gained revenge with a 28-9 victory over the Springboks. The All Blacks demonstrated their superiority, setting up a semifinal clash with Australia, which they ultimately lost. New Zealand had entered the match on the back of six consecutive wins against South Africa.
2015 – ABs’ ‘Composure’ Wins the Day
In the 2015 World Cup, New Zealand secured a significant victory over the Springboks in the semifinals with a narrow 20-18 win. Beauden Barrett, who will be playing in the upcoming final, scored one of their two tries. Head coach Steve Hansen praised the team’s composure in a do-or-die game. The All Blacks went on to win the tournament, marking their first World Cup victory outside of New Zealand.
2019 – ABs’ Pyrrhic Victory
In a remarkable turn of events, both teams were drawn in the same pool in the 2019 World Cup, with the All Blacks winning 23-13. New Zealand’s win set them on a course for their third consecutive title. However, South Africa went on to make history by becoming the first team to lose a pool game and then win the Webb Ellis trophy, defeating England in the final.
These encounters have showcased the intense rivalry and historic moments between New Zealand and South Africa in the Rugby World Cup.