As the Tri-Nations siege of South Africa commences, Greg Smith has his own theory why it is easier for touring teams to win on Springbok rather than New Zealand territory.
Greg Smith writes for Sportingo that home advantage in South Africa within the Tri-Nations isn’t the same as in New Zealand – and five out of eight wins on tour in South Africa for the All Blacks proves that. South Africa isn’t a rugby fortress like New Zealand. Attitude, hospitality, weather and facilities make it an infinitely more hospitable and hopeful place for victory on the road.
Allegations that South Africa is the hardest road trip in rugby union are unfounded – and I’ll argue that at this point in time in the Tri-Nations, the Springboks are the ones under the cosh and that New Zealand will always be the hardest place to tour.
Argentina, Australia and New Zealand in succession are like a hurricane, a tsunami and an earthquake battering into the Boks. A triple whammy! I honestly don’t think the Springboks are going to withstand this unrelenting attack and I doubt any team in world rugby could.
Imagine this trio descending on Ireland, Wales, England or France. Yip, you’re right – havoc!
It’s really a sort of gang warfare. A dingo pack hunting down an oversized prey, and home advantage isn’t going to save the Boks.
As I said, home advantage isn’t a big deal here in South Africa. There is none of this icy New Zealand weather, the training grounds aren’t inadequate like in New Zealand and all round, if you ask players touring the ‘Rugby Republic’, the place is a breeze compared to Ireland, Wales or France.
OK, you don’t have home fans but that’s not the be and end all of rugby, is it? South Africa have performed in front of the most hostile crowds in rugby union in New Zealand (remember 1981?) and the House of Pain, while having to contend with equally shocking weather and accommodation, along with training facilities from the dark ages.
I’ll argue that most teams within international rugby will be more hopeful of victory in South Africa than in New Zealand, regardless of the relative strengths of the home teams. So South African home advantage means little or at least less than New Zealand home advantage.
New Zealand is the rugby fortress. The referees, the hostile crowds, the shocking weather and the remote location of the place conspire against the most valiant challengers.
Look at the statistics and you’ll see South Africa are the world champions of hospitality and all this talk of home advantage is overhyped nonsense. South Africans have a welcoming attitude to teams from around the world – ask the Welsh, the Irish, the French, the English or any team that tours here.
It’s an African-style hospitality foreign to New Zealanders, who mistakenly transpose their hooliganism and poor behaviour onto South Africans. Teams touring here don’t suffer the same overbearing suppression on and off the field, which is typically Kiwi.Tweet