New Zealand had never won a series in South Africa but South Africa had won a series in New Zealand in 1937. The All Blacks and Springboks have played each other 104 times, with the All Blacks leading the series 62 to 38, with 4 matches drawn since 1996.
New Zealand turned the tables on the Springboks seven years later, winning the 1956 series 3-1. The All Blacks won 10-6 at Dunedin, but the Springboks fought back to win the second in Wellington 8-3. The home side responded with a 17-10 victory in the third encounter in Christchurch and finished the visitors off with an 11-5 win in Auckland.
The 1960 series in South Africa could have gone either way. The Springboks won the first encounter 13-0 at Ellis Park.
The All Blacks struck back with an 11-3 win at Newlands and an 11-11 scoreline in the third test in Bloemfontein setting up a thrilling final clash. The Springboks won by 8 points to 3 to secure their second series win on home soil and their third in all against their traditional rivals.
New Zealand raced into a 2-0 lead in the 1965 series, winning 6-3 and 13-0 in Wellington and Dunedin respectively.
While the Springboks came back to record a narrow 19-16 win in Christchurch, the home side produced a spectacular finale to beat South Africa 20-3 in Auckland for a 3-1 series victory. It was New Zealand’s second series triumph against South Africa.
In the eight tests played on South African soil in the 70’s, South Africa won 6 and New Zealand 2. The Springboks scored back-to-back 3 -1 series victories in 1970 and 1976. In 1970, they won 17 – 6, 14 – 3, and 20 -17 in the first, third, and final tests while the All Blacks won the second clash 9 -8. In 1976, South Africa again won tests 1, 3, and 4 by margins of 17 – 6, 15 – 10, and 15 – 14. The All Blacks won 15 – 9 in the second test.
If the 70’s belonged to the Springboks, the 80’s and 90’s belonged to the All Blacks. The controversial 1981 test series, with the famous “flour bomb” test, might be recorded more for its political significance than for anything else, but the record books show that the All Blacks won the series 2 -1. They beat the Boks 14 – 9 in Christchurch, lost 24 – 12 in Wellington, and finished with a narrow 25 -22 win in Auckland.
The series hastened South Africa’s descent into isolation and it was to be 11 years before the two old foes would go into battle again. South Africa re-entered the international arena in 1992. In a one-off test at Ellis Park, the All Blacks beat the Springboks 27 – 24 providing a rude awakening and a realization of the ground that had been lost since the two countries last met in 1981.
The next series, in 1994, was to be as painful for the Boks. The All Blacks tied up the series in the first two tests, winning 22 – 14 and 13 – 9. The final test ended in an 18-all draw.
One of the most famous clashes between the Springboks and the All Blacks took place at Ellis Park on 24 June 1995. In a Rugby World Cup final that captured the attention of the world and had two entire nations on the edge of their seats for more than 2 hours, South Africa emerged victorious by 15 points to 12. It was a match that renewed and intensified the rivalry between the two teams.