FOR 98 YEARS Ireland had a shocking record in international rugby against South Africa.
Between the Springboks’ visit to Balmoral in 1908 and Ireland’s most recent journey to the Cape in 2004 there was just a solitary win to celebrate – a glorious 9 – 6 trouncing at Lansdowne Road in 1965.
Since that last summer tour to South Africa, however, Ireland’s win-loss ratio looks a whole lot healthier. So, because we’re of a sunny disposition (and our parents aren’t old enough to remember Ireland’s first win) here’s a quick refresher on Ireland’s last five meetings with the ‘Boks.
The ROG Test
After all the Triple Crown joy had been sucked out of the squad during a harsh South African winter in 2004, Ireland met the South Africa in Lansdowne road on November 13.
Ronan O’Gara scored all 17 of Ireland’s points including an opportunistic quick-tap try while the visitors mustered just four Percy Montgomery penalties in response.
Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO
‘Boks with one eye on the World Cup
In one of the final games before Lansdowne Road’s redevelopment, South Africa appeared in suitably retro jerseys. At the height of their powers, Eddie O’Sullivan’s Ireland blew and experimental Springboks side away in the first half.
Horgan, Horan, Trimble and Wallace were on the score-sheet as the hosts won 32 – 15 against a side containing the like of Juan Smith, Bryan Habana (in the centre) and Frans Steyn.
Jean de Villiers and Juan Smith take down Paul O’Connell, but Ireland are rampant. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
The Fog Test
Having recorded just a single win in 98 years, Ireland, now as Grand Slam champions, battled their way to a third win in succession over the reigning World Champions.
In limited visibility, Ireland’s pack were tasked with taking on the visitors at their own game. Schalk Burger, roundly booed by the Croke Park crowd for a Lions tour gouge on Luke Fitzgerald, scored a try at the Canal End that looked to have the Springboks in control,
Visibility was tough for supporters squinting to make out Irish players in white jerseys on a white background. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
Instead, an almighty defensive effort allowed Jonathan Sexton take the plaudits. The new man in the number 10 jersey held his nerve to kick five crucial penalties.
The new house
2010, and Ireland’s house-warming in the Aviva threatened to fizzle out long before full time. Juan Smith and Gio Aplon tries shot the ‘Boks into a 23 – 9 lead before O’Gara was called on for the rescue mission.
The Munster 10 came agonisingly close to succeeding.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
O’Gara kicked cross-field for Tommy Bowe’s try to narrow the gap before Rob Kearney touched down to put Ireland within two.
A touchline conversion from the right, the most difficult angle for a right-footed kicker – stood between ROG and a comeback story for the ages… but he missed the target and Ireland lost 21 – 23.
A familiar face put the nails in Ireland as South Africa recorded a result more befitting the weight of this historical form book.
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Having only recently deposed Brian O’Driscoll as captain, Jamie Heaslip was in the focus of the camera for unwanted reasons after half time as he walked to the sin bin.
It’s always feisty. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
The visitors used the 15-on-14 window to maximum advantage, patiently rumbling Ireland on the five-metre line before Ruan Pienaar spied a gap and claimed the game’s crucial score.
Ruan Pienaar likely to miss out but Springboks in ominous condition for Dublin showdownIt’s the November before the World Cup… and rugby’s top nations will look to lay down a marker