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England vs South Africa: 113 years of rugby history

The rivalry between the rugby teams of England and South Africa predates the formation of the latter as a sovereign state.

The Springboks first met England on their 1906 tour of Great Britain and France, the trip where their famous moniker was coined.

The team that would come to be known as the Springboks visited England in 1906 as part of their first tour to the British Isles.

The birth of the Springboks

The South African team played against the home nations and France on that tour losing only to Scotland.

The first contest between South Africa and England took place at the Crystal Palace in London and ended in a 3-3 draw.

Twickenham would play host to the next six meetings of the two countries from 1913 until 1969 with the Springboks claiming five successive victories at the venue before England notched their first win over South Africa in 1969.

In 1972 an England team toured what was by then the Republic of South Africa and won their first Test in the country 18-9 at Ellis Park.

England toured South Africa again in 1984 but were well beaten in both Tests going down 33-15 at the Boet Erasmus Stadium in Port Elizabeth before suffering a 35-9 defeat at Ellis Park, which was at the time the biggest defeat they had suffered at the hands of the Boks.

Sporting boycotts imposed on South Africa due to apartheid limited the meetings between the two countries, when the IRB ban was rescinded in the early 90s, the Springboks played their first away Test match at Twickenham against England.

England, who were beaten World Cup finalists the year before came out on top 33-16 in what was just the tenth meeting between the two sides.

In 1994 England visited South Africa for their first multi-Test tour since their 1984 defeat. England won the first Test 32-15 at Loftus Versfeld but the Springboks bounced back to level the series with a 27-9 win at Newlands.

The triumph at Newlands began a sequence of four wins on the trot for the Springboks including two wins at the home of England Rugby, Twickenham.

The next loss for the Springboks was a heartbreaking one as defeat saw them fail to break the record for most successive Test wins. The Springboks fell to a 13-7 defeat at Twickenham in their bid to win 18 Tests on the bounce.

England vs SA at the Rugby World Cup

The Boks faced England at the World Cup for the first time in 1999, in a game dominated by five drop-goals from Jannie de Beer, which remains the World record for field-goals in a Test match. The Springboks won 44-21, notching their highest score against the Roses to date.

A year later England arrived in South Africa to play a two-match Test series. The Springboks beat Clive Woodward’s side in the first Test 18-13 but England turned things around in Bloemfontein winning the second Test 27-22. That win was the first in England’s longest winning streak against the Springboks. They would win seven Tests between 2000 and 2006 including a 53-3 record hammering of a hapless team in November 2002 and a 25-6 defeat in a 2003 Rugby World Cup pool match.

England’s longest winning streak against the Springboks ended almost fittingly at the beginning of the South Africans longest winning run. Between 2006 and 2018 the Springboks won nine Tests against England without reply. The streak included their dual wins over the Roses en route to lifting the World Cup in 2007.

The winning streak ended in a dead rubber third Test at Newlands in 2018.

England won a November 2018 Test in controversial circumstances with Owen Farrell lucky to escape sanction for a dangerous tackle.

In 42 Tests between the two nations the Springboks have won 25 while England have won 15 and there have been two draws.