When Saru announced recently the venues for the Bok Test matches of 2016, Bloemfontein again didn’t appear among the host cities – which makes it now a long five years since Bloemfontein was last allocated a Bok Test match (2010).
It must however be added that in 2013 an Argentina Test was due to be played in the Free State Stadium, but in an arrangement with the Golden Lions and Saru the Test was moved to the FNB Stadium to form part of the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day.
It was also reasoned at the time that financial implications played a role and that the ticket sales in Bloemfontein were going slow and more interest could be created if the venue had to be changed.
Host unions must pay an enormous amount of money to Saru for the privilege to host a Test.
However it must be said that in the last 10 years Bloemfontein hosted just four Bok Test matches, of which the Boks only lost the last one:
– In 2010 when John Smit’s team lost 39-41 to the Wallabies in the Tri-Nations courtesy of a last minute Kurtley Beale penalty goal;
– In 2009 when Smit’s chargers beat the All Blacks 28-19 on their way to capture the Tri-Nations and which was the first of three times the Boks beat New Zealand that year;
– In 2008 when Smit’s team beat Wales 43-17 to start the tenure of Peter de Villiers as the new Bok coach on a winning note;
– In 2007 when Smit’s team beat England by the big score of 58-10 in what was also the Boks’ first Test of that year being World Cup year.
– Before that 2007 Test one has to go back a further three years for the previous Test in 2004 when the Boks beat Ireland 31-17 in what was Jake White’s first Test as Bok coach.
SA capitals who will see Bok Tests next year include Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit, Pretoria and Durban.
Newlands will host the Boks opening Test next year when Ireland will play the first of three Test matches in Cape Town, Ellis Park will host the second Test while Port Elizabeth will get the third Test.
The Boks will open their Rugby Championship campaign on August 20 against Argentina at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, while Loftus will host the Wallaby Test on October 1 and Durban’s Kings Park the All Black Test on October 8, which will be the Boks’ final match of the Championship.
It’s the first time since 2012 that Johannesburg won’t host the All Blacks Test, with New Zealand winning 32-16 in 2012 at the FNB Stadium at Nasrec, while the last three years it was at Ellis Park; in 2013 the All Blacks won 38-27, the Boks winning 27-25 in 2014 and this year the All Blacks winning again 27-20.
The last time a Bok v All Black Test took place in Durban was back in 2009 when the Boks scored a 31-19 win with Morne Steyn achieving the rare fate of scoring all the Boks’ points.