The Springboks, haunted by a devastating defeat by Ireland in 2017, will banish the painful memory when the world champions and world’s No 1-ranked side clash on Saturday.
In his TIMESLive column, Mark Keohane says there have been some dark days in Springbok rugby in the professional era, like back-to-back 50-point losses against the All Blacks in 2016 and 2017.
But, Keohane argues that the 38-3 defeat by Ireland in Dublin five years ago is right up there with those unforgettable lows, given the quality of Bok players who started the Test and the potential of those introduced from the bench at the Aviva Stadium.
Ireland ran in four tries as they recorded their biggest winning margin over South Africa, and now, the top-ranked Irish are heavily favoured to win the first Test between the two nations again this week.
“A week is a long time in sport, but five years seems like a lifetime and earlier this week, 2019 World Cup-winning lock Lood de Jager spoke of the pain of that defeat, but also of how much he and his teammates from that night have grown as international rugby players and also as people,” Keohane writes.
“Jesse Kriel, Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth, De Jager, Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit started that 38-3 defeat. Bongi Mbonambi and Steven Kitsoff were among the substitutes.
“None of those players were World Cup winners on that dark night in Dublin in 2017, but in 2022 they will return as champions, desperate to showcase their maturity and evolution as world-class players and exorcise those ghosts of 2017.
“It was a night that can’t be erased for those nine Boks but it is a memory that can be softened with victory in Dublin on Saturday night.”
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) November 2, 2022
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