Last Saturday was epic

2014-10-10 00:00

LAST Saturday’s Springbok win against the All Blacks at Ellis Park is still the talk of the town nearly a week later, and so it should be.

In three words — It was epic. It’s a piece of South African rugby history proudly occupying a place in the up-and-down journey of the game in a rugby-mad country like ours.

Cynics will forever argue —  that’s what makes them think they are important — that the 27-25 victory ultimately means nothing, as the Boks still finished second in the Rugby Championships and they have nothing to show for the win.

If that train of thought is to be followed, then the question can also be asked as to whether the All Blacks really gave their all or put their mind to the task at hand. They had already secured the Rugby Championship title the previous week, so what was there to play for?

For starters, there is no way the All Blacks would give less than 100% against the Springboks, wherever they play, whatever the circumstance going into the match. They would never simply allow the Boks to win. There is too much at stake between the two sides and this time around, the All Blacks were on a 22-match winning streak.

If anything, the match was akin to the 1995 World Cup final. Same venue, a sell-out crowd, same opposition. All that was missing was a jumbo jet flyover and of course, that Madiba magic, although the great man must still be partying in the heavens and telling the rugby legends around him that on their day, the Boks can beat any team.

The build-up to the match set the scene. Talk from both camps, captains and coaches gave a clear indication of the importance and intensity of the struggle ahead. By the time 5 pm on Saturday came around, even the most disinterested bystander had to realise something special was about to go down and that stopping to take it in was worth the effort.

The match itself needs no repeating, suffice to say that it will be remembered as one of the greatest clashes between two rugby powerhouses. Unlike the 1995 final, there were tries this time and although no winning drop-goal, there was an effort that drifted wide as the Boks looked to rub out the one-point deficit with the clock showing no mercy — there was that Pat Lambie penalty.

Like 1995, the world stopped turning for a few seconds. South Africans held their breath. Even the commentators allowed the spectators to tell us whether the kick had gone over or not.

There was an air of loyalty, pride and passion in the air. Young Lambie became an icon in an instant, forever to be remembered as the player who nailed the kick that gave us the win, the first against the men in black since 2011 in Port Elizabeth, when the Boks triumphed 18-5.

So what if Morné Steyn could have “done it with his eyes closed”? He wasn’t on the field and he probably did have his eyes closed anyway, not daring to watch. Steyn had his rugby moment in 2009, also landing a last-minute, long-range kick that won the series and the second Test against the British and Irish Lions.

Forget all the finicky, negative, nit-picking comments and scenarios. Let’s unite once more as a nation and savour the result and occasion.

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