This game is Rugby World Cup-final material.
While South Africans and New Zealanders will probably have to be reminded more than once that the winner of this game can’t be seen as the automatic conqueror in Japan, it’s the match of the weekend, scratch that, the match of the group stages.
It’s a blockbuster that could be decided by a number of factors – execution in the wet, set-piece prowess, tactical expertise. Individual contributions will also have a say in how things play out in Yokohama on Saturday.
The All Blacks take on South Africa in a titanic Pool B clash to start their respective Rugby World Cup campaigns in Japan.
The contest in Yokohama will be the fifth between the two nations at the World Cup – their last meeting was the 2015 semi-final the All Blacks won 20-18 at Twickenham in London.
PLAY-BY-PLAY: All Blacks vs Springboks
The most famous World Cup game between these great rugby rivals was the 1995 final the Springboks won 15-12 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Rugby World Cup: All Blacks vs Springboks – who will win?
All Blacks victories have been such certainties in recent times that the only question has been the margin.
Prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup we all had reason to suspect the team might fold under pressure.
Dominant performances during world cup cycles hadn’t been repeated at the tournaments themselves, casting a pall upon New Zealand rugby.
History shows New Zealand went on to win that inaugural world cup in dominant fashion.
Back then people hoped the All Blacks would be good. They knew there was talent within the side, but recognized there was just as much elsewhere.
Australia were arguably the team to beat in 1987, just as South Africa might be now.
New Zealand’s greatest asset in 2019 is a winning pedigree, rather than players who are far and away better than everyone else’s.
That creates uncertainty and interest and this tournament is all the better for New Zealand not being the prohibitive favorites.
The Springboks for the weekend’s clash
15-Willie le Roux, 14-Cheslin Kolbe, 13-Lukhanyo Am, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Makazole Mapimpi, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6-Siya Kolisi (captain), 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Frans Malherbe, 2-Malcom Marx, 1-Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16-Bongi Mbonambi, 17-Tendai Mtawarira, 18-Trevor Nyakane, 19-RG Snyman, 20-Francois Louw, 21-Herschel Jantjies, 22-Frans Steyn, 23-Jesse Kriel