In the fourth instalment of a new article series from the SA Rugby magazine team, MARIETTE ADAMS reflects on a Tri-Nations thriller that kicked off a day of celebrations.
I distinctly remember the day of 12 September 2009. It was my brother’s 21st birthday and if you know anything about the coloured community it would be that matric dances and 21st birthdays are a big deal. And because another family member celebrates their birthday on the same date, my family had of course planned the bash of all bashes.
With the Tri-Nations title on the line, the Springboks were scheduled to take on the All Blacks in Hamilton. But with the 11-hour time difference, the match would kick off at 9am SA time.
In no way whatsoever would us rugby fanatics be allowed to watch this Test at home while the preparations for the party were in full swing. Maybe go to another family member’s house? Nope, that wouldn’t do either. So we decided to go to a pub and, let me tell you, in a small town there weren’t and still aren’t that many watering holes to choose from.
So there we were, cramped into a crowded pub, waiting for the game to start. Naturally there were a few Cape Crusaders, who were running their mouths off before the teams took to the field. ‘Vandag kry die Bokke ‘n groot pak’, one at the table next to ours shouted at no one in particular.
My brother, who had received a stern warning from our mom to behave himself because he had to still give a speech at his party later in the day, ordered drinks just before the anthems started and our table wasn’t empty once after that.
So, finally we get to kick-off and immediately the hosts win a kickable penalty, which Dan Carter turned into points. Mr Cape Crusader was still busy pumping his chest when Frans Steyn landed a long-range penalty to level the scores. The kickers traded penalties again for a 6-6 scoreline, but it wasn’t until Morne Steyn’s drop goal that the place erupted. That put South Africa in what proved to be an unassailable lead.
South Africa then went over for the first try of the game after Joe Rokocoko failed to deal with an up and under from Fourie du Preez, who was in the midst of arguably his finest season. The ball squirted loose and South Africa pounced to secure possession through Bakkies Botha. One phase later and Du Preez was over the tryline.
Ultimately, the Boks were 22-12 up at half time and, as John Smit led his men into the sheds for a well-deserved breather, the birthday boy led his party to the bar for shots. An off-key version of ‘Hier kommie Bokke’ rang out in the pub and Mr Crusader was trying to his level best to pretend he couldn’t hear it.
When the second half commenced, intercept king Jean de Villiers did what he does best and latched on to a short pass from Carter to score against the run of play. The place erupted again, but I didn’t share in the cheers because I was starting to feel light-headed.
New Zealand, though, fought back to get within seven of South Africa’s tally to set up a grandstand final 15 minutes of action. Morne Steyn stretched the lead to 10 with a penalty, but Richie McCaw’s try made it a three-point game with two minutes to go.
An eerie silence descended on the pub as the patrons waited to see if the Boks could hold on for the win or if the All Blacks would complete a great comeback. As it turned out, it was the former as South Africa’s defence shut New Zealand out to clinch the victory and with that their first Tri-Nations title in five years.
Someone came rushing to Mr Cape Crusader and said, ‘En daar kry die All Blacks toe ‘n groot pak!’ He was so dejected that he didn’t even bother to reply. Assessing the situation, my brother climbed over our the table to whisper something to him, but I was so angry to even ask what all that was about because my brother had spilled his drink all over my head and ruined my hair a couple of hours before the party.
My mother was not happy with the state we were in when we eventually got home, but because she didn’t want to spoil her first-born’s special day, my cousins and I were the ones who felt her wrath.
All in all, the party went according to plan and once all the formalities were over with, I spotted someone with an All Blacks jersey on the dance floor. It was Mr Cape Crusader. Turns out my brother had told him to not take the All Blacks’ loss to heart and invited him to the party. The Bok party.
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