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Autobiography clipping reveals 'hell on earth' awaiting All Blacks

By Ian Cameron
New Zealand's Akira Ioane (C) celebrates his try with teammates Aaron Smith (L) and Samuel Whitelock during the third rugby Test match between New Zealand and Ireland at Sky Stadium in Wellington on July 16, 2022. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

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An apt autobiography clipping posted on social media reveals the ‘hell on earth’ awaiting the All Blacks when they visit Ellis Park this weekend.

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The 62,000 seater in Jo’burg – AKA Emirates Airline Park – is arguably the nation’s most beloved rugby fortress. According to Last Word on Rugby, of 52 Tests at this venue, the Boks have won 36, lost 13 and drawn 2.

Former Springboks’ skipper John Smit captured the essence of South Africa’s favourite rugby arena – which they haven’t played at since 2019 – in his autobiography and it was helpfully sign posted on Twitter this week.

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Author and blogger Clinton van der Berg Tweeted: “No one ever summed up the joys of Ellis Park quite so succinctly as John Smit did in his 2009 autobiography. Here, then, for the benefit of the All Blacks.”

The clipping reads:

“Ellis Park is such a special place for the Boks and hell on earth for the visiting teams. It’s no secret that they feel like they are stepping into a lost valley in hillbilly country. Opponents have told us over a beer how they get a sinking feeling as the bus gets further away from the comfort of their Sandton hotel and passes through the dodgy, run-down areas surrounding the stadium. We’ve heard of fans spitting and banging on their bus as it enters the ground.

“Inside, the stadium is so well designed that the crowd sits on top of you and gets totally involved in the game. The fans really let rip and at the risk of sounding snobbish, there’s something scary about a lot of them. The Aussies reckon Ellis Park is straight out of The Jerry Springer Show and that the fans look almost capable of murder.”

The game is essentially do or die for Foster, who almost certainly faces the sack if his All Blacks lose for the fourth time on the trot, a scenario which many are predicting will play out in Johannesburg.

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