Connect with us


Timeless Tests – South Africa v Scotland

Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel and Herschel Jantjies will start against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made four changes to his matchday squad that defeated the All Blacks.

Scotland South Africa Rugby World Cup 2015

Ahead of their meeting at Murrayfield on Saturday, Quintin van Jaarsveld highlights five of the most significant showdowns between South Africa and Scotland in the professional era.

Running of the Boks

One of the early victories in the Springbok’s world record-equalling 17-Test winning streak under Nick Mallett saw them put Scotland to the sword in front of a home crowd stunned into silence in 1997. The world champions ran in 10 tries in the 68-10 massacre at Murrayfield, which remains the Springboks’ biggest win over the Scots.

Two more records were set on the day. Fullback Percy Montgomery scored 26 points through two tries and eight conversions, which still stands as the highest individual points haul in the rivalry, while legendary late winger James Small scored a brace of tries, the second taking his tally to 20 and breaking iconic centre Danie Gerber’s previous national record of 19 Test tries. Another who got onto the scoresheet that day was current SA Rugby director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus.

The Stuff of Legend

Champagne rugby was on show when these two nations opened their 1999 World Cup campaigns at Murrayfield. The Scots showed no fear against the defending champions and were in the contest until the Springboks pounced on the hosts’ mistakes and pulled away in the latter stages.

South Africa scored six scintillating tries, half of which stand the test of time. That’s because two were scored by late legends Andre Venter and Joost van der Merwe, while the other was one of the greatest prop tries in history. After a shaky start, Scotland grew into the game and at half-time, they held a 16-13 lead. As the hour-mark approached, the Scots still had their noses in front (19-18) when replacement Ollie le Roux found himself in a bit of space with the try line some 15 metres away.

The original Springbok super-sub had wing Pieter Rossouw on his outside, but he was never going to pass up on an opportunity to cross the whitewash. The beloved big man pinned his ears back, Scotland wing Cammie Murray drifted wide and with that, the barn-storming behemoth was over for his first try in the green and gold in what was his 21st Test. The Springboks led the dance from thereon out and went on to claim a comfortable 46-29 win.

Record Low

Scotland had to wait three years for another crack at South Africa and it proved to be well worth it as they exacted revenge for the above-mentioned defeat. It was a battered Springbok team that arrived at Murrayfield, one coming off a 30-10 thrashing by France in Paris the previous weekend, and things would go from bad to worse for Corne Krige and company.

Having made one mistake after the other, the men in green and gold would’ve been thrilled with the 6-all scoreline at half-time, flyhalf Butch James’ two penalties counting out those of a less-reliable Brendan Laney in the No.12 jersey. However, the hosts made sure to convert while keeping the bubbling Springboks scoreless in the second half.

A third Laney penalty and converted try by No.8 Budge Pountney put the Scots in the pound seats before a cringe-worthy moment of self-sabotage, which summed up the visitors’ performance, put the final nail in the coffin. Receiving a poor pass in his in-goal area, replacement flyhalf Andre Pretorius attempted to step his way out of trouble only to spill the ball for wing Nikki Walker to dot down. With that, Bryan Redpath-led Scotland secured a record 21-6 win.

The Great Escape

Scotland threatened to make more history in the next chapter of the rivalry. They touched down in South Africa for a two-Test tour in 2003 fuelled by the memories of their 15-point win in the last encounter the previous November and for most of the first match in Durban, it looked like the visitors had a date with destiny.

The spirited Scots were in control of proceedings from the onset and on course to claim their first-ever win over the Springboks on South African soil as they led 25-12 after tries by Jason White, Andy Craig and Chris Paterson, with the latter adding two conversions and a pair of penalty goals. The hosts, in reply, could only muster four three-pointers from the boot of flyhalf Louis Koen and spent 10 minutes down to 14 men as legendary lock Victor Matfield was yellow-carded.

The desperate Springboks finally unlocked Scotland’s defence when wing Stefan Terblanche went over for a seven-pointer on the hour-mark and another penalty goal by Koen closed the gap to 25-22. Lady Luck then intervened. Koen scuffed an opportunity to draw level as he blasted a penalty kick into the left upright, but a potential three points turned into seven as lock Hendrik Gerber grabbed the ball and centre Trevor Halstead scored to put the Springboks in the lead for the first time in the 72nd minute.

The drama was far from over as the visitors launched a late siege on the hosts’ line that resulted in a string of penalties and a yellow card for the late great Joost van der Westhuizen, who captained the team in his famous No.9 jersey. Prop Gavin Kerr had a chance to score the winning try in injury time but knocked on as he reached for the line, the Scots cruelly denied at Kings Park as the Springboks escaped with a 29-25 victory.

More Murrayfield Misery

After escaping with narrow wins over Ireland (23-21) and Wales (29-25), Jake White’s Springboks met their match at a rain-soaked Murrayfield in 2010. This was their first visit to the home of Scottish rugby since the afore-mentioned loss and they’d won all seven showdowns in between. However, the horrors of 2002 came flooding back in the wet.

A classic this was not as the challenging conditions didn’t allow for it. Only the most die-hard Scotland supporter will rewatch this one but it was nevertheless a famous fixture as the hosts stunned the world champions 21-17. Dan Parks was the hero, the flyhalf scoring all of Scotland’s points through six penalty goals and a drop goal.

Opposite number Morne Steyn slotted four penalty goals and with 10 minutes remaining, Peter de Villiers’ men gave themselves a shot as Willem Alberts powered over for the only try of the match from a lineout. In the end, it was too little too late as the hosts held on for their fifth win in the rivalry, with South Africa boasting 22 victories. The four-point triumph remains the last time Scotland beat the Springboks.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

More in Rugby