Just over a month before the two colossal pillars of international rugby are set to meet in the pool stage to kick off both of their respective 2019 World Cup campaigns, rugby fans were treated to a compelling tactical clash this past Saturday as the test match between New Zealand and South Africa resulted in a 16-16 draw in Wellington, a result which keeps South Africa in pole position to win this years Rugby Championship, should they beat Argentina on the 10th of August.
Saturday’s draw, which can be broken down simply to 80 minutes of extremely intense defensive play, and a plethora of complex attacking sequences designed to break the other down, was a fitting rematch to follow up the two previous tests which the sides competed in last year. The two sides were separated on both previous occasions by a mere two points, with the All Blacks picking up the victory in the first contest, and South Africa besting them in the second. Fans of both teams will be eagerly anticipating the World Cup clash between the two on the 21st of September, which has been almost perfectly set up following the last 3 exhilarating clashes between the pair.
South Africa’s head coach Rassie Erasmus participated in a calm post match press conference in which he declared to be “satisfied to come away with a draw” with the world’s current number one ranked team, after the Springboks scraped the comeback to earn the draw in the dying seconds of the game.
Conversely, the frustration of losing the lead so late on in the game was apparent in New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen’s post match press conference as he admitted “the last couple of seconds were tough to watch”.
Hansen’s frustration was undoubtedly doubled by the unfortunate injury sustained by lock Brodie Retallick, who Hansen confirmed in his post match comments suffered a dislocated shoulder in the game.
The All Blacks will hope to have Retallick back to full fitness before they face off with South Africa once again on the 21st of September in Yokohama, and it is certain that both head coaches and their respective teams will be busy analysing this game religiously to try and gain a tactical advantage over the other before the two square off once again in the World Cup.