South African rugby enjoyed its best year following the Boks’ triumph in the Rugby Championship and World Cup. JOHN GOLIATH looks back at his favourite rugby moments of 2019.
Scott Robertson’s breakdance routine after a Super Rugby final never gets old
Let’s face it, ‘Razor’ is a damn good rugby coach, having guided the Crusaders to multiple Vodacom Super Rugby titles including this year’s triumph over the Jaguares. But his dance moves definitely lack a bit of quality. When he pulls out his breakdance move, he looks like a drunk uncle at his own 60th birthday party, thinking his body can still move like it did 30 years ago. But it’s not about what the moves look like, it’s about his character and the genuine feeling one gets when he, err, breaks it down. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s a rugby coach expressing himself and blowing off some steam. In a game of stiffs, it’s refreshing and great to watch.
Herschel Jantjies’ match-saving try against the All Blacks
The Springboks scored some epic tries in 2019, none more so than the two scores by Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe in the final of the World Cup. Those two tries basically killed off the game for Siya Kolisi’s men, which triggered wild celebrations throughout the country. Jantjies’ try is one that tends to take a back seat in a spectacular year for South African rugby, but it helped the Boks win the Rugby Championship and at the same time give the All Blacks a taste of their own medicine, as they have broken the South Africans’ hearts so often over the last decade in the final minutes.
Japan’s performance against Scotland after Typhoon Hagibis
We can agree that the World Cup in Japan had some awesome moments and will go down as one of the best tournaments ever. There were upsets galore, with Uruguay beating Fiji and Japan shocking the Irish. There were spectacular tries and big hits, while all the spectators had a top party at a well run event. Typhoon Hagibis, however, almost spoiled the festivities when its force ravaged the country and caused chaos and destruction. But somehow the Japanese pulled together during their time of need. Their courage was embodied by their rugby team, who 24 hours after the natural disaster produced a performance for the ages against Scotland to top their group and qualify for the quarter-finals.
The Boks keeping England out with stubborn defence in the World Cup final
The Springboks’ mantra during the World Cup was ‘Stronger Together’. It was a battle cry that united the country, but also made them believe that they could actually win the World Cup following the defeat to the All Blacks in their opening match of the tournament. But nothing personified ‘Stronger Together’ like the South Africans’ defensive effort in the World Cup final during that little period of sustained pressure by the English in the first half. There was no way through the green wall, as the Boks put their bodies on the line, while also trusting the system and each other. That showing of strength and determination ended up laying the platform for their famous win.
The Springboks’ arrival and trophy tour was sensational
The Springboks were welcomed with cheers, song and dance when they arrived at OR Tambo following their epic World Cup win. People from all walks of life partied together as captain Kolisi, coach Rassie Erasmus and the Webb-Ellis Cup made its way through the arrivals hall. But the party didn’t stop there, as South Africans lined the streets during the trophy tour. We don’t always have a lot to smile about as South Africans, but the World Cup win was savoured by millions of people around the country. For me, besides Kolisi lifting the trophy, this was the greatest rugby moment of 2019.