Springbok steel the key in Cardiff cauldron
The Springboks know how to “go to dark places and live there for a very long time”.
With those words, Springboks captain Siyamthanda Kolisi summed up his team’s resolve, after they ended their eight-year wait for a win over Wales in Cardiff.
South Africa was six points behind on two occasions in the match and still trailed when replacement hooker Malcolm Marx was driven over from a close-range line-out seven minutes from time at a rainswept Principality Stadium.
Elton Jantjies rounded off the scoring with the last kick of the match to seal a 23-18 victory for the Boks.
The determined effort in testing conditions was borne from a similar resolve that saw them put a disappointing Rugby Championship campaign behind them to beat New Zealand 31-29 last month, having also come from behind to beat the British and Irish Lions 2-1 earlier this year.
“We know the kind of team Wales is,” Kolisi told a virtual post-match media briefing from Cardiff.
“It’s always been tough when we play against them.
“They are the one team that will go for 80 minutes.
“But we worked really hard [to win this one].”
Kolisi also touched on his team’s resolve and determination to overcome the odds.
“It’s just a South African thing,” the Bok skipper said, adding: “We come from a country where people just don’t accept defeat.
“They always persist, no matter how tough things are. That is installed into us.”
He spoke of the well-documented selection approach of coach Jacques Nienaber and South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, who opt for players with genuine fortitude and unwavering will to not give up.
“They [the coaching staff] select guys who have been through quite a lot and can get through tough times,” Kolisi said.
“That’s one thing we pride ourselves in.
“When the coach speaks to us in the change room, he doesn’t speak to me as a rugby player, he speaks to me as a person.
“He knows we can go to those dark places and we are able to live there for a very long time.
“That [resolve] is really important.”
Kolisi also spoke about playing for “the people back home”.
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“We are very privileged to be able to do what we love and put smiles on people’s faces back home.
“We go through so many struggles, that people get so excited when we play.
“We know we’ve got 80 minutes. Whatever you do you can change someone’s mood in a couple of minutes.”
Coach Jacques Nienaber said he was happy they could finally break the ‘Cardiff hoodoo’.
“We got exactly what we thought we were going to get [from Wales],” Nienaber said.
But he was concerned by the way the Springboks repeatedly gave away penalties, with flyhalf Dan Biggar kicking all of Wales’ points.
“Our discipline was poor [in the first half].
“It’s something I thought we did well in the second half, we found solutions to that.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and there was some over-eagerness.
“We lacked accuracy at times in terms of using our opportunities.
“But this was a valuable win for us, because we knew these are the same conditions we can expect in the 2023 World Cup.”
He said the Malcolm Marx try in the last 10 minutes was the pivotal point in the match.
“It was big for us, and we probably won the game right there, so I have to take my hat off to the forwards for making it happen.”