A difficult year of international rugby came to an end on a low note for the Springboks on Saturday when they were edged 27-26 in a tightly contested match against England at Twickenham.
After playing no rugby in 2020 the Boks went straight into a tough three month bio bubble where they competed in a British and Irish Lions series and the Rugby Championship, before having a few weeks off and then taking on a tough end-of-year-tour to the UK.
Despite this they still managed to put in some impressive performances in solid wins over Wales and Scotland and it could have ended off on a much better note if the team had taken their chances against England.
“We are obviously not happy with some of the losses that we have had this year, but the effort that we have put in as a group and the commitment and work rate is stuff that the coaching staff looks for,” said captain Siya Kolisi after Saturday’s loss to England at Twickenham.
“We have no excuses about how difficult it was over the year being in isolation and bubbles at times, but I thought that the sacrifices that we had to make really impressed me, how honest we are with one another and the fact that despite what we went through we aren’t happy with where we are.
“But I am proud to be part of this group and the effort that they guys have shown. The support that we have had from our families and the people back home has been great.”
In the England match the Boks got off to a very slow start that saw the hosts lead 17-6 early in the game before eventually taking a 17-12 lead into the half time break.
The second half then almost exclusively belonged to the Boks, but a number of missed try scoring opportunities, coupled with missed kicks at goal and choosing to go for the lineout maul instead of taking the points on offer ended up seeing them fall to a one point defeat.
“I thought they started well, their plan started working early in the game and they caught us once or twice but we weren’t stressing about that, we knew there would be moments in the game where they would get it right,” said Kolisi.
“I thought we were able to come back and slowly started chipping away with the three pointers. In the second half we went for touch because we felt we had the ascendancy in the maul and scrums.
“We would have loved to have taken those opportunities but we came close and obviously it plays an impact at the end of a game. But at that specific time we thought it was the best decision as a group.
“Of course at the end when you look at the game and you lose by one or two points those things do matter and obviously we wished we had capitalised on that.”