Ardie Savea settles world number one debate and reveals ‘sting’ attached to Springboks 2024 double-header

Colin Newboult
All Blacks forward Ardie Savea thanks the fans after the Rugby World Cup final.

All Blacks forward Ardie Savea thanks the fans after the Rugby World Cup final.

Ardie Savea says that going up against their great rivals South Africa is a “highlight” and has quashed the idea that Ireland are the best team in the world.

The number eight is currently plying his trade in Japan but will return ahead of the July series against England and Fiji.

Following those encounters, New Zealand will seek to defend their Rugby Championship title when the competition starts in August.

Scott Robertson’s men open their campaign with two home games against Argentina before they head to South Africa for a double-header with the world champions.


The All Blacks will be looking for revenge after they succumbed 12-11 to the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup final last year.

“South Africa is one of the biggest rivals for us as All Blacks,” Savea said. “And yeah, we do miss playing South African teams in Super Rugby.

“Playing two Tests in South Africa, it’s like a highlight I guess in a player’s career in New Zealand to be able to go to South Africa and play against the Springboks.

“It will be awesome to be able to make that team, be a part of that and come back to South Africa and play the world champions. There will be a bit of sting in that too. It will be good.”

Ardie Savea addresses All Blacks captaincy and selection as Scott Robertson era begins

Savea was also asked about the debate that raged during the Six Nations over which country was the best in the world.

While South Africa emerged triumphant in France and have obviously been ranked number one following that success, Ireland were incredibly impressive during the recent Northern Hemisphere international tournament.

They won the title – missing out on the Grand Slam due to a one-point defeat to England – and were the only side to defeat the Boks at the World Cup in France.

The All Blacks number eight was asked whether Ireland had a claim for top spot, but his response was unequivocal, saying: “Mate, South Africa are world champions. That speaks for itself.”

Lingering World Cup disappointment

New Zealand have yet to play a Test since their World Cup final defeat and Savea admitted that he has not truly got over that disappointment.

“Yeah, it still stings a little bit not being able to win the World Cup. It’s something that I have had to kind of process. I think of what we could have done better, what if this happened, but it’s done now,” he said.

“I think for myself personally, the only way to move on is to do my best for Kobe but also look at the game against South Africa and reflect on the good, and I guess the negatives and the work-ons that I can learn from as a leader.

“Hopefully, I can use that to better myself here and then obviously better myself in the future, wherever that takes me.”

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