Surrounded by all the famous names in the game of Rugby, Springbok wing sensation Aphiwe Dyanti once again reminded the world that it is not where you come from and what skin colour you are that will determine what you become in life
It’s been an up and down year for the Springboks, with coach Rassie Erasmus ending the year on a 50 percent record, winning seven out of 14 games. Rugby writers Mike Greenaway, Vata Ngobeni and Wynona Louw give their views.
Highlight of the season: No brainer this one The win against the All Blacks at the “Cake Tin” was all the more spectacular, given how poor the Boks were in losses to Argentina and Australia prior to this match. But a monster effort on defence and clinical conversion of opportunities sealed a famous win.
Lowlight of the season: The meltdown in Mendoza was disappointing, particularly after the Boks had soundly beaten the same Pumas the week before in Durban, but for sheer incompetence, the miserable loss to the Wallabies takes the cake. The Australians themselves were poor, but the Boks contrived to be even worse.
Bok of the season: There were handling errors from Pieter-Steph du Toit against Wales, but that barely registers when you consider the consistent excellence he delivered across the season. Handré Pollard made a late charge for this award, but Du Toit’s ceaseless industry seals the deal. His tears in Wellington will never be forgotten.
My Bok rating: 6/10
Highlight of the season: Undoubtedly the Boks’ historic win against the All Blacks in Wellington. Not only did they come into this encounter on the back of two successive defeats against Argentina and Australia, but they were playing the best team on the planet. The Boks defended ferociously and made the best of the little attacking opportunities they had.
Lowlight of the season: The two losses against Argentina and Australia away from home in the Rugby Championship. The Boks had no business being on the losing side of these encounters as they were by far a better team on paper and through performance in the build-up to the competition.
Bok of the season: A close one between Du Toit and Aphiwe Dyantyi. However, it is the consistency in performances from Du Toit that sees him edge out Dyantyi, with the versatile forward hardly putting a foot wrong be it at flank or in his traditional position at lock.
My Bok rating: 5/10
Highlight of the season: While beating the Kiwis in their own backyard is a feat, the players that were introduced to Test rugby this season have also created many fine moments. It was good seeing the likes of Dyantyi, Sbu Nkosi, Cheslin Kolbe, Damian Willemse and Embrose Papier make their Test bows. It’s even better knowing that their best is yet to come.
Lowlight of the season: Nothing can be lower than Mendoza and Brisbane, but a few other performances sure have come close. The fact that it’s not clear what the Boks’ game plan is has been a worrying issue, and the tendency to persist with things that don’t work (like the box kicking and wings’ defensive roles) is a problem.
Bok of the season: Dyantyi’s World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award says enough about his debut season, but another player who has given South Africans multiple reasons to get excited about the Boks’ wider channels is Nkosi. His skill and ability to read the game is superb. We’ve seen it.