Sunny skies, braais and Bok support in Perth
The Western Force’s axing from Super Rugby will make the Wallabies feel even less at home when they take on the Springboks in Perth on Saturday.
That is the view of former Springbok prop Robbie Kempson, who espoused the virtues of the Western Australian city.
Over the years, it has been good to the Bok cause, he says.
"It does take them out of their comfort zone‚" Kempson said about the Wallabies having to travel to Perth.
"It doesn’t make their lives much easier having to fly all that way [five hours from Sydney]. The fact that the Western Force were kicked out of Super Rugby does swing things in SA’s favour, given all the things going on in the Australian Rugby Union."
The Springboks have a respectable record in Perth. The Wallabies have won only four of their eight meetings there.
In fact‚ it is often said it is the Springboks’ home away from home. Perth has held special significance in the Springboks’ successes in the competition.
Nick Mallett’s side eked out a 14-13 win en route to the title in 1998‚ while Peter de Villiers’ side won there in 2009‚ the year of the Springboks’ last successful assault on the title.
Jake White’s team came within a whisker of beating the Wallabies there in 2004‚ but Clyde Rathbone drove a stake through Bok hearts with a try in the corner in the 78th minute.
The bonus point in that 30-26 defeat proved crucial‚ however‚ as that separated the Boks from the Wallabies on the points table as the All Blacks‚ for once‚ found themselves at the foot of the log. It is also worth remembering Harry Viljoen’s team secured a 14-all draw there in 2001‚ underlining the Wallabies’ inability to dominate the Boks in Western Australia.
"The big expat community there does help‚" said Kempson‚ who was the Bok loosehead when they won there in 1998.
"It is not that far from home," he said.
"There are enough South Africans around and you get invited for braais or whatever it might be. That’s why it is easier to go there. You settle into your stride much earlier in the week as opposed to flying to Sydney. And from there, it is easier to get into New Zealand in terms of getting used to the change of time zones. The whole experience is easier," he said.
Bok flank Siya Kolisi felt the love there this week.
"It’s good to see the South Africans outside SA‚" Kolisi said.
"It was nice to hear so many South African accents among the spectators.
"It’s always pleasing to get good support here in Perth and the boys enjoyed the interaction afterwards with the spectators," he said. "Hopefully, they will turn up on Saturday as well‚ then we can see some green-and-gold jerseys in the crowd."
The Springboks travelled to Perth occupying unfamiliar territory. The summit of the Rugby Championship standings are usually the domain of the All Blacks, but the Boks, following their back-to-back successes over Los Pumas, are in pole position.