Springboks 2018: Highlights and lowlights

Rassie Erasmus (Getty)
Rassie Erasmus (Getty)

Cape Town - Played 14, won 7 and lost 7. That was the Springboks' record in 2018. 

There were certainly moments of encouragement as preparations for the 2019 World Cup gain momentum, but there also moments where the Boks looked a long way away from being a side capable of mounting a serious challenge at next year's tournament in Japan. 

Regardless of what you make of the Bok season, it looks like coach Rassie Erasmus is settling on his best side. 

There are, of course, just four Tests remaining between now and the World Cup, which means that there is not much time left to experiment. 

Here, we look at three highlights and three lowlights from the Springbok season and Erasmus' first year in charge of the national side. 


1. Beating the All Blacks in Wellington ...

This will go down as one of the great Springbok performances of all time. Not given a chance before the game, the Boks put in a simply heroic defensive effort while they pounced on a few loose moments from the world champions to secure a 36-34 win in Wellington. While every Bok on the park pulled his weight, Pieter-Steph du Toit was monumental for the visitors and images of the towering forward breaking down in tears after the final whistle will live long in the memories of South African rugby lovers. 

2. Boks fight back at Ellis Park ...

In what was Erasmus' first home Test, the Boks found themselves 24-3 down in no time against Eddie Jones' England. It didn't look good for the hosts, but they found something from somewhere and began playing some attractive, expansive rugby as they fought their way back into the contest. The Boks emerged as 42-39 winners in a thriller that was also Siya Kolisi's first Test as Bok skipper. A new era of South African rugby had begun. 

3. After-the-hooter drama in Paris ...

Having lost to England the weekend before, the Boks needed a win against France in Paris to get their end-of-year tour going. In truth, they were far from their best on the day. 26-22 down going into the final 10 minutes, the Boks finally started to hit their stride. They had a try from Aphiwe Dyantyi ruled out after a Willie le Roux forward pass, but they found a way over the line after the hooter to secure a famous last-gasp win. Replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi was the man who stood up with the ball. 


1. Boks save their worst for last ...

Maybe it was down to a long season, but the Boks were not at the races against Wales this past Saturday. Most concerning was that this looked to be the starting side that Erasmus was beginning to settle on with the World Cup in mind. Poor execution and ill-discipline saw South Africa fall to a 20-11 defeat in Cardiff and that result was a stark reminder that the Boks are not yet ready to challenge for a World Cup title. 

2. Boks fall apart at wet Newlands ...

The Boks were simply awful in the third Test against England at Newlands. With the series already wrapped up, Erasmus made a few changes to give some of the fringe players an opportunity. In treacherous Cape winter conditions, nobody struggled more than an error-ridden Elton Jantjies, who was yanked off the park shortly after half-time. On a day to forget, the Boks limped to a 25-10 loss. 

3. South American blues ...

In another one of South Africa's worst performances of the year, the Boks fell to a heavy 32-19 defeat to Argentina in Mendoza. The Boks were bossed in the scrums that day, but that was also the first sign of the defensive frailties that would be problematic at other stages of the season. While this result only came in round 2 of the Rugby Championship, it effectively ended South Africa's title challenge before it had even started. 

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