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Wales welcome South Africa in the Millennium Stadium in what will be the last match of 2017. But what’s the history between the two sides? And who’s going to win this time round?
The sides have met 32 times in the past with South Africa winning 28, Wales 3 and 1 draw. The sides met infrequently to begin, with only 7 matches being played before 1990, and South Africa winning all but 1 draw. Since 1990 the teams have met by and large every year with South Africa dominating the results, including inflicting Wales’ heaviest ever defeat with a 96 – 13 hammering in Pretoria in 1998. Wales have won 2 from the last 3 however, which could indicated a turn around in the fortunes for this match up.
This match is forecasted to go to the Welsh, but only just. Currently the match is predicted to finish 23 – 20 to Wales.
The first ever match was in 1906 in Swansea, with the visiting Springboks winning comfortably 11 – 0. Wales had to wait until 1999 for their first victory over South Africa when they won a surprise match against a strong South African touring side just before the ’99 World Cup. However, with 2 victories in their last 3 matches against the South Africans, the Welsh will be hopeful of continuing to pull back the unfavourable head to head statistics.
In fact, Wales have a truly miserable set of results against all the main southern hemisphere sides, and that has continued this Autumn having already suffered defeats to Australia and New Zealand. Over the last 30 years the Welsh have just 5 wins from 75 attempts against South Africa, Australia or New Zealand.
In recent times however, the results have been improving. In doing so though they have perhaps become more heartbreaking. 12 of the 30 attempts this decade have been within a converted try at the end, most memorably the 3 matches (SA – 2011, Aus – 2012, SA – 2014) where they lost by just a single point in the last minute.
Overall, 2017 has been a mixed year for Wales. With what was perceived to be a poor performance in the 6 Nations and now, combined with losses to Australia and New Zealand, they will be keen to finish on a high by beating South Africa to set themselves up for next year.
South Africa have actually had a relatively good year, at least results wise, despite what the press has been saying. They have only lost 3 times in 12 matches with those coming at the hands of New Zealand and Ireland, currently ranked 1 and 3 in the world.
This will be an interesting game, both sides have relatively new teams and are currently developing their squads for RWC 2019. It is unlikely to be high scoring, but it has a good chance of being exciting, with the result in the balance right until the end. Difficult to call therefore, but we’ll stick with the computer and back Wales.