The 14-match Springbok tour of New Zealand in 1981 remains among the most contentious rugby tours ever undertaken. Its social and political ramifications were immense and long-lasting, and yet the rugby played in the three-test series won by the All Blacks through an Allan Hewson penalty goal in injury time in the third 'flour-bomb' test was always compelling. In retrospect, the 1981 series stands as a pivotal point in the long history of more than 100 rugby internationals played between these two great rugby nations from 1921 to the present day.
It was thought likely at the end of that historic day at Eden Park that there might never be another test series between the Boks and the All Blacks. But circumstances changed and South Africa was eventually re-admitted to international rugby in 1992 after years of isolation. This followed the release of future president Nelson Mandela from prison in February 1990 and the acceptance of proposed changes to the South African political system. The All Blacks had last undertaken an official full tour of South Africa in 1976, but a rebel New Zealand Cavaliers team had toured the Republic ten years later and lost a four-test series.