In the next instalment of a series looking at memorable moments from 2021, AP CRONJE applauds the Springbok scrum that repelled the British & Irish Lions to help secure the series.
It was a year in which the Boks captivated but also frustrated, fluctuating between invincible and insipid. Throughout an unprecedented year with a multitude of challenges there has, however, been one constant for South Africa – the scrum.
The Bok scrum is by some measure the best in world rugby, the alpha and the omega for South Africa, with several matches ultimately determined by the front row.
My moment of the year came in the 72nd minute of the deciding third Test against the British & Irish Lions. With the game hanging in the balance (16-13), the Lions had possession and an attacking scrum five metres from the Springbok line. With time running out, the Lions gathered themselves for one final assault.
It is rumoured by those sat close enough to the Springbok coaching box that the message sent down by Jacques Nienaber was simple – “Tell them, this is for the series!” Whatever was said to the Bok front row certainly had the desired effect.
Loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane, with the support of Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch, exerted a mountain of pressure on his opposite man.
Under the strain of the Bomb Squad, England tighthead Kyle Sinckler had no option but to drop to his knees. The Boks were awarded a penalty to hammer home the final nail in the Lions’ coffin.
Morne Steyn may have caught the headlines, but it was the grunt up front that will live longest in my mind.