As we continue to countdown the days to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, we resume our look back at the last 5 years at how the Springboks worked their way to Japan as one of the main contenders to be crowned World Champions for a possible third time. Join Irfaan Adam as he takes us on this journey…
2016 – Following their Rugby World Cup adventure, Heyneke Meyer was replaced by Allister Coetzee as Springbok Head Coach, and his first port of call was a 3-match Test series against Ireland in June on home soil.
The former Stormers coach named a squad with a fine blend of youth and experience but he was given a strong dose of reality. The Irish weren’t there to just make up numbers as a win in Cape Town handed them their first win over the Boks in South Africa.
Slender wins in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth followed – but despite claiming series honors, Coetzee suddenly knew what he was in for…
Next up for Toetie and his men, the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, and a win over Argentina kicked things off for the men in green. It may not have been the most pretty but it was effective and most importantly saw them take momentum with them for the return in Salta. However Los Pumas had other ideas. A typically gritty display handed them a 26 – 24 victory, their first over the Boks in Argentina.
The Suncorp Stadium was next on the agenda, and there was more doom and gloom for the Green and Gold. Warren Whitely may have struck first for the Boks, but Australia responded and eventually ran out 23-17 winners.
On the back of successive defeats – travelling to Christchurch presented an ominous task and again it proved to be just that. The All Blacks ran in 6 tries to 1 and eased to a 41 – 13 victory.
While a boot dominated victory over the Wallabies saw the Boks return to winning ways at Loftus Versfeld, the challenge of the All Blacks in Durban provided one of the most gut-wrenching results in Springbok history. The All Blacks’ preparations were undermined by an embarrassing revelation when scrumhalf Aaron Smith was suspended due to an unsavory airport incident in New Zealand, but how his team responded was something to behold. The men in black produced a prolific attacking display scoring 9 tries and in the process landed their 17th consecutive victory.
Things though weren’t about to improve. The end – of – year tour kicked off with a clash against England, and while the Boks boasted a fine 10 year record against the 2003 World Champions, the record books were about to be re-written. England claimed a 37 – 21 victory – their first against the Boks since 2006.
Despite the loss at Twickenham the Boks would’ve travelled to Florence for a clash against Italy confident given their record against the Azzurri. But again the old adage of records being made to be broken came to the fore. In one of the darkest days in Bok history – Italy earned their first victory ever over South Africa in their 13th meeting.
A miserable year concluded with a loss to Wales. A 27 – 13 victory in Cardiff was the Dragons largest winning margin over South Africa, surpassing the 10-point margin set in 1999.
And with that result, the Bok curtain closed on a miserable year for South African Rugby.
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