A year to remember

Where were you when the Springboks dominated world rugby in 2009?

As Vodacom is celebrating 20 years of empowering South Africans, we are taking a nostalgic journey to 2009 – the year Vodacom dedicated to all the loyal rugby fans, Player 23.

In only his second year in charge of the Springboks, coach Peter de Villiers earned one of the most coveted prizes in 2009, a series victory over the British & Irish Lions.

Bolstered by their 2-1 series success, South Africa were on the hunt for only their third Vodacom Tri-Nations title since the competition's inception in 1996.

Although the Springboks finished third in the 2008 Vodacom Tri-Nations campaign they won nine of their 13 Tests and it was only a matter of time before they would rise to the occasion.

Starting the 2009 campaign against the All Blacks in back-to-back Tests on home soil, the Boks faced a tough opener to the tournament.

The Springboks would call on their home support as they would face a New Zealand side fresh off a 22-16 victory over the Wallabies the week before.

It turned out to be a red-letter day for the Boks as their inspirational captain John Smit led South Africa to victory in his record-equalling 59th time as captain.

A 28-19 victory over the All Blacks in the City of Roses set the scene for possibly one of the Springboks’ best seasons.

A week later, Morné Steyn affirmed his arrival on the international rugby scene by almost single-handedly defeating New Zealand in Durban. Steyn scored all of the Springboks’ points in their 31-19 defeat of the tourists, with a converted five-pointer and eight penalty goals. His stellar performance saw him move past Andrew Mehrtens' 29-point contribution in 1999 for the most points scored by an individual in a Tri-Nations Test.

The Springboks then eliminated any doubt that they could make the coveted trophy theirs with a 29-17 victory over Australia in Cape Town.

On their return leg in Australia, the Boks were in rampant form as they put four tries past the Wallabies for a 32-25 win in Perth.

Their 21-6 defeat to the Wallabies in Brisbane a week later put the pressure squarely on the Springboks as a loss to the All Blacks in the final match of the tournament would effectively leave their title hopes in tatters.

Buoyed by their two preceding victories and their first win in New Zealand in 10 years the year before, the Boks would not allow the All Blacks to deny them the title in the decider in Hamilton.

Like two prized fighters, neither of the powerhouses of world rugby gave an inch with the match ultimately boiling down to South Africa’s superior place-kicking.

South Africa held a solid 22-10 lead at half-time thanks to a converted try by Fourie du Preez, three long-range penalty goals by Frans Steyn, a drop goal and a penalty by Morné Steyn.

Springbok centre Jean de Villiers extended the lead with an intercept try after the break, and although the All Blacks responded with a try shortly after, they could not quite catch the South Africans.

Steyn added the final blow with nine minutes to go with another penalty conversion and when Kiwi captain Richie McCaw scored in the 79th minute, it was too little too late.

The victory was the Boks’ third consecutive over the mighty All Blacks, the first time South Africa had managed this feat since 1949.

Brought to you by Vodacom – proud telecoms partner to the Springboks since 1995.

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