Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Wales host South Africa at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday as the World Champions take on the Grand Slam winners at home. We thought wed take a look back ten years as in 1998 we saw two very contrasting matches taking place, with 6 months being a very long time in rugby.
Wales toured South Africa in June of that year with an inexperienced side and got the hiding of all hidings at Loftus Versfeld as the Boks ran riot, winning the game 96-13.
In November though, with the Millennium Stadium still being developed, Wembley played host to a rematch as the Springboks took on the Welsh at their temporary home. 55 000 people turned up in the hope of seeing an improved performance from the Welsh side whos pride took such a knock only a few months earlier.
The home side raced off to a fantastic start as a quick tap from Rob Howley sparked a surge up field that ended in Gareth Thomas, with a full head of hair, diving in at the corner for a superbly taken try.
With Neil Jenkins on song, Wales sped ahead to a 14-0 lead as the kicking maestro tallied up 600 points in international rugby.
South Africa fought back though, and after a period of pressure on the Welsh tryline, were awarded a penalty try, shortly before Pieter Rossouw broke the line and offloaded to scrum half Joost Van der Westhuizen for the try.
The sides went into the halftime break level, but through the second half penalties were traded, with the score eventually sitting on 20-20 with little time remaining and a draw looking on the cards.
A break from the persistent Van der Westhuizen resulted in the ball ending up in Andre Venters hands after a Rassie Erasmus fumble. Venter fell over the line to snatch the win and break Welsh hearts after such an impressive start to the match.
The conversion was missed, but a late penalty meant the score ended at 28-20 to South Africa after a classic Test between the two sides.
This year Wales went down 2-0 to the Springboks in South Africa, despite showing performances that were anything like the disaster of June 1998. Saturday looks set to be another classic as the two sides meet on the spectacular stage that is the Millennium Stadium.
Note: The quality and editing on this is a little sketchy at times, but we'd like to make another appeal to all those with older footage from tapes etc, to submit or edit it, and we'll feature it on the site.
Extra: You can view an interesting interview with Bryan Habana ahead of the match here