first_imgBy flying into New Zealand from South Africa, as they will on Tuesday morning, then winning a playoff match, they will have ended a 12-game losing streak for teams in such situations, that stretches back almost 20 years.Travelling teams have struggled in the playoffs full stop, winning just 23 per cent of matches, but when they have to fly across the Indian Ocean, and then across the Tasman, that figure falls to 13 per cent.Across the years, 18 teams have found themselves in those circumstances, with 16 losing and just two winning – in games where they were at home against opponents who had made the same trip.First, in 1996, there were the Blues, who beat the Sharks in Durban in the final round of the regular season, then returned home to beat Northern Transvaal in the semifinals.And then in 1998, there were the Crusaders, who beat the Sharks in Durban to end the round robin, then again in Christchurch in the semifinals.Since then, 12 teams have faced the arduous journey – eight from South Africa, two from Australia, and two from New Zealand – and none have triumphed.Going the other way, from New Zealand to South Africa, teams have won four times out of 11, a tally the Hurricanes will be trying to add to when they take on the Lions in Johannesburg in the early hours of Sunday morning (NZ time).Two of those wins came this year and last, when good Chiefs teams were forced to travel to play average Stormers teams, thanks to the convoluted conference format. The others came in 2011, when the Crusaders beat the Stormers, during their impressive run to the final in that earthquake-affected season; and in 1999, when the Highlanders beat the Stormers to set up the party at Tony Brown’s place, which they then lost to the Crusaders.The itinerary the Highlanders had then, from New Zealand to South Africa and back, is the hardest possible – at least until the Jaguares or the Sunwolves make the playoffs – and it’s one the Chiefs are familiar with, having done it last year, when they returned home victorious from Cape Town then lost meekly to the Hurricanes. Photo by: Getty Images (Liam Messam and the Chiefs are up against history as they try to stay alive in Super Rugby).last_img

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