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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November, 2004, 10:52 GMT
History favours Springbok slam
By James Standley

The Boks celebrate Tri-Nations victory
The Springboks arrive in Britain as Tri-Nations champions

The Boks are back and they are hunting a Grand Slam.

None of the three southern hemisphere giants sides have beaten all four home nations on their home soil since Australia in 1984.

Australia and New Zealand have both won the slam once while South Africa have achieved it four times.

The Boks first beat England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales way back in 1912/13.

It was the second time the Boks had toured Europe and they not only beat the four home nations but also defeated France.

This Springbok side is four wins away from entering the history books and against Wales on Saturday the hunt starts for a remarkable fifth grand slam

They followed up with another Grand Slam the next time they toured in 1931/32 before the team that many consider to be the finest Springbok side to tour swept the board in 1951/52.

Hennie Muller took over the captaincy after Basil Kenyon suffered a serious eye injury and led the Boks to the Grand Slam.

For good measure they also beat France as they won 30 of 31 matches on tour.

The last Springbok Grand Slam came in 1960/61 when Avril Malan's side beat all four home unions on a four-month, 34-game sweep through Europe.

That was the last time the Boks managed the feat, failing in 1969/70 and 1998, although they came close in 1998.

It took a 13-7 win by England to wreck South Africa's bid for a record 18th consecutive win and prevent them from claiming their fifth slam.

The Boks' record is far better than either Australia's or New Zealand's and backs up the country's claim to be historically the pre-eminent rugby nation on the planet.

England captain Lawrence Dallaglio and coach Sir Clive Woodward celebrate beating the Boks
England managed to prevent a fifth Springbok grand slam in 1998

Astonishingly New Zealand, South Africa's main rivals for the title, have only once achieved a slam and that came as recently as 1978 at the sixth attempt under All Black legend Graham Mourie.

Australia's solitary slam came even later than that in 1984 as the Wallabies, coached by the controversial figure of Alan Jones and containing greats like Mark Ella, Nick Farr-Jones and David Campese, swept the board.

The tour signalled the emergence of the Wallabies as a serious force on the world stage.

Previously they had been far from the world beaters they have become in the last two decades and they remain the only one of the southern hemisphere sides to have lost to all four home nations in one tour, in 1957-58.

At their lowest ebb over the past couple of years the prospect of following suit must have haunted many Springbok fans but their recent revival suggests a fifth slam of their own is far more likely.

Whatever the reasons for playing all four home nations, and money is high on the agenda, the pursuit of a Grand Slam quickens the pulse of all rugby fans.

This Springbok side is four wins away from entering the history books and against Wales on Saturday the hunt starts for a remarkable fifth Grand Slam.

Springboks shoot for clean sweep
04 Nov 04 |  Lions in NZ
Born-again Boks chasing history
04 Nov 04 |  Lions in NZ
Smit fit to lead SA against Wales
29 Oct 04 |  Lions in NZ
Henson happy to take centre role
03 Nov 04 |  Lions in NZ
Springboks commit to White
27 Sep 04 |  Rugby Union

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