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England, not South Africa, now the All Blacks' biggest rivals, says ex-Test winger

England have overtaken the Springboks as the All Blacks' greatest rivals, according to former Crusaders and Test winger Scott Hamilton.

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England have since been fined for their pre-match gesture. Source: 1 NEWS

Despite the Springboks and the All Blacks having engaged in a fierce rivalry for decades, the repetitive nature of the Rugby Championship has seen the competitive relationship between the two sides heavily diluted, Hamilton believes. 

Under the present scheduling, New Zealand and South Africa face off twice a year, barring exceptional circumstances like a coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, with England and the All Blacks scarcely playing each other in modern times, having met on just three occasions since 2014, the anticipation of the two sides playing has seen the fixture become one of the most anticipated on the calendar.

Speaking to South African outlet Sport24, three-time Super Rugby champion and two-Test All Black Hamilton spoke about why the rivalry between New Zealand and the Springboks has become so watered down in recent times.

"Owing to the physicality of South African and New Zealand players the fixture is always keenly anticipated and there is always going to be a healthy rivalry between the two nations," Hamilton says.

"However, owing to the fact South Africa and New Zealand play against each other so often I think the rivalry has dissipated,

"As a New Zealander, I would much rather beat England."

Hamilton enjoyed a lengthy career playing in the English Premiership after leaving New Zealand, winning two titles with Leicester Tigers over eight seasons.