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Rugby’s Fortresses: The World’s Ten Most Daunting Stadiums

What are the most difficult stadiums to go to and win a test?

Using winning percentages to rank the world’s international grounds, we have come up with a list of the top ten most daunting and intimidating places to play rugby for any visiting team.

Anyone who has been to the Millennium Stadium during a sell-out and with the roof closed will know it’s something else in terms of atmosphere, as well as the likes of Lansdowne Road, the Stade de France, Murrayfield and more, but we take a look at the stadiums with the best statistics for the home teams.

All winning percentages also include draws.

10) Kings Park Stadium, Durban: 31 tests, 19 wins, 9 losses, 3 draws (66%)

The first stadium that makes the list is South Africa’s Kings Park Stadium that was originally constructed in 1958 and is currently the home of the Sharks in the Super Rugby competition.

It has seen South Africa defeat New Zealand three times, Australia twice, three times against France, twice against Wales, once against England and twice over the Lions.

However, the last test to have been played there was back in 2015 when South Africa suffered a shock 27 – 35 loss to Argentina.

Scoring stats: 77 tries, 58 conversions, 81 penalties, 11 drop goals

9) Twickenham, London: 294 tests, 180 wins, 81 losses, 23 draws (68.53%)

The first and only European stadium in the list, Twickenham has been England’s home since 1910 when they defeated Wales 11 – 6.

An amazing 294 England matches have been played at the stadium, with England winning 180 of those tests – making it statistically the toughest place to win for visitors in the northern hemisphere.

Clive Woodward was able to cement Twickenham’s place as a fortress as England did not lose a test match at the ground from 15th October 1999 until their 13 – 19 loss to Ireland during the Six Nations in 2004, or 22 test matches in a row.

Eddie Jones’ England have played just three tests at Twickenham, with wins over Ireland and Wales twice, but he will be hoping to add to that tally with four matches being played at the stadium in the Autumn.

Scoring stats: 714 tries, 448 conversions, 621 penalties, 52 drop goals

8) Newlands, Cape Town: 52 tests, 35 wins, 15 losses, 2 draws (69.23%)

Now 126 years old, Newlands is the oldest rugby ground in South Africa, but also one of the oldest in the entire world. The very first game that was played there was between Stellenbosch and Villagers on 31 May 1890.

The ground opened the 1995 Rugby World Cup and was where Jonah Lomu made light work of England’s defence as New Zealand went on to crush the Red Rose 45-29 in the semi-final.

Ireland won their first ever test in South Africa at Newlands back in June, but before then the Springboks had not lost at the stadium since 2008.

Scoring stats: 131 tries, 73 conversions, 93 penalties, 12 drop goals

7) Ellis Park, Johannesburg: 48 tests, 33 wins, 13 losses, 2 draws (70.83%)

South Africa v New Zealand - The Rugby Championship

Over 1,700 metres above sea level, Ellis Park has always given the Springboks an edge in terms of the issues playing at altitude can have on visiting teams to the stadium.

Most recently South Africa defeated Ireland there to level the series before going on to win in Port Elizabeth. However, South Africa have lost three of their last six tests at the stadium, including a loss to the Lions in the third test of the 2009 tour and two defeats against the All Blacks.

Despite this, the Springboks have defeated New Zealand an impressive eight times at the ground since 1928 as well as wins over every major nation in the world – with the exception of France who have won at Ellis Park four times.

The stadium was also where Francois Pienaar accepted the William Webb Ellis cup from President Nelson Mandela at the now legendary 1995 Rugby World Cup final.

Scoring stats: 157 tries, 100 conversions, 100 penalties, 13 drop goals

6) Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria: 33 tests, 25 wins, 8 losses, 0 draws (75.75%)

Home of the famous Blue Bulls team, once so dominant in Super Rugby, Loftus Versfeld has been a happy hunting ground for South Africa. The Springboks have not lost at the stadium since 2006 when they went down 26 – 45 to a rampant New Zealand team. However, the 2009 Lions series was won at the ground with a 28 – 25 win – the site of Ronan O’Gara’s moment of madness handing Morne Steyn a chance to kick South Africa to victory.

Victories against New Zealand, Australia, the Lions, England, Wales, France and Ireland were all witnessed here throughout the years.

The stadium last held a test in August 2014 when South Africa narrowly defeated Argentina 13 – 6.

Scoring stats: 131 tries, 92 conversions, 91 penalties, 6 drop goals

5) Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney: 25 tests, 19 wins, 6 losses, 0 draws (76%)

The Sydney Football Stadium started hosting international rugby fixtures in 1989, which coincided with Australia’s arrival as a superpower in world rugby.

The Wallabies began life there with a win over Lions and have also beaten the All Blacks there four times in its history.

It was also the ground at which George Gregan famously tackled Jeff Wilson to prevent him scoring and secure the Bledisloe Cup for Australia in 1994.

Most recently it saw Australia lose to England 40 – 44 in the extraordinary final test of the three match series, only the sixth time the Wallabies have lost at the ground and first loss since 1995.

Scoring stats: 76 tries, 47 conversions, 81 penalties, 2 drop goals

4) Lancaster Park, Christchurch: 48 tests, 39 wins, 9 losses, 0 draws (81.25%)

A stadium of such beautiful rugby but also one of immense tragedy. From 1913 when the All Blacks lost to Australia through the 1987 World Cup, famous games against the Wallabies, the Springboks and visitors from across Europe, all the way up to 2010.

It was then that the stadium was expanded, including the creation of the Deans Stand to celebrate the family that has been synonymous with Christchurch and rugby in the area. With the World Cup tournament arriving in the country for the first time since 1987 it was a period of enormous excitement for Cantabrians.

However, the 2011 Christchurch earthquake severely damaged the stadium and to this today its future has still not yet been decided.

Scoring stats: 141 tries, 82 conversions, 102 penalties, 7 conversions

3) Carisbrook, Dunedin: 38 tests, 32 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw (85.52%)

Carisbrook is particularly relevant for next year’s Lions tour given the number of matches involving the team that have been played there. From 1908 when an Anglo-Welsh team played there, eight Lions tests have been won and lost at Carisbrook, including a 3 – 9 win for the Lions back in 1971.

The All Blacks enjoyed 32 wins from 38 tests there, with losses against Britain in 1930, the Lions in ’71, Australia in 2001, South Africa in 2008 and France in 2009.

After the 2011 World Cup the stadium sold and demolished, with the Forsyth Barr Stadium becoming the major rugby ground in Dunedin.

Scoring stats: 135 tries, 89 conversions, 75 penalties, 7 drop goals

2) Eden Park, Auckland: 79 tests, 67 wins, 10 losses, 2 draws (86.07%)

1994 was a good year for some, but not for the people of Auckland. It was the last time New Zealand lost at the legendary Eden Park stadium. In fact, there are now players pushing for All Blacks spots who weren’t even born when New Zealand last lost a test there. Since then they have won 35 – yes, 35 – tests in a row there, including the recent 39 – 21 defeat of Wales.

It was also the scene for the first World Cup final in 1987 and where captain David Kirk lifted the William Webb Ellis cup and New Zealand’s victory over France again in the final of the 2011 edition of the tournament when the All Blacks won 8 – 7.

Scoring stats: 250 tries, 179 conversions, 213 penalties, 20 drop goals

1) Westpac Stadium, Wellington: 20 tests, 18 wins, 2 losses, 0 draws (90%)

In windy Wellington the wins keep coming and the All Blacks have enjoyed 18 wins from 20 tests. Known locally as the ‘Cake Tin’ because of its distinctive look, it is said that the design of the ground means the wind can whip around players and spectators and cause issues for both.

The stadium started life with a New Zealand loss to Australia on 5th August 2000. The only other game the All Blacks have lost there is the 13 – 15 defeat to Clive Woodward’s England. Since then it has hosted victories over almost all the major nations in world rugby, including revenge over Woodward when the Kiwis defeated the Lions 48 – 18 in 2005.

Scoring stats: 79 tries, 48 conversions, 61 penalties, 1 drop goal

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

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