Siya Kolisi off-loads to Damian de Allende to score during the match against New Zealand at Loftus Stadium. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – There were many things the Springboks got right in their Rugby Championship campaign, and there were also moments that were more forgettable.

The fact that they beat New Zealand in Wellington was an achievement on its own, while their heartbreaking 30-32 defeat at Loftus Versfeld also showed that the Boks may have made enough progress to take on the All Blacks again.

There's also no shortage of things - relating to their game in recent weeks - that can be highlighted.

One of those things, for me, was how the Boks stepped up against the All Blacks on both occasions after a couple of shockers...like what went down in Brisbane against Australia and Argentina in Mendoza. 

It's that consistency that will be important going forward, and its importance was certainly underlined during the Championship, not only in terms of performing in the next game like you did in the last, but also performing consistently from the first minute through to the 80th.

The Wellington test was touted as the ultimate progress indicator, and after the Boks' triumph, the focus shifted to whether they'd be able to do it again. And given that the All Blacks are the world's No 1 rugby unit, it's completely understandable. It was also important in terms of next year's World Cup, seeing that the defending champions will of course be the favourites, while the fact that the Boks will open their World Cup proceedings against the All Blacks was also a factor. 

For many, the notion was if the Boks can beat the All Blacks now, they can beat them in Japan, and if that rock can be moved, the Webb Ellis is within reach.

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But how the Springboks fare in the End of Year Tour will be just as important, if not an even more accurate progress indicator.

England, especially, will be set on reminding the rugby world that they are also a factor, and the type of , in addition to the conditions, the Springboks will encounter next month will pose a different challenge - one that will assess and display their growth on a bigger canvas.

Francois Louw hands off Patrick Tuipulotu of New Zealand at Loftus Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Francois Louw hands off Patrick Tuipulotu of New Zealand at Loftus Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

And while there was some consistency from the Wellington showdown through to the Loftus battle (seeing that the Boks also beat Australia in between, although they took the foot off the gas in the second half), consistency will be crucial in the northern hemisphere next month, just like it was in the Championship.

Another thing that stood out was the Boks' defence - an at-times concerning area in June - and how things have come together, while they also showed that they can hit that balance between attack and defence, although there have been many unused chances and unforced errors with ball in hand.

They produced a huge defensive outing in Wellington, and defence was also a big contributor in PE and Pretoria. But in between, we also saw the promise on attack through superb spells with ball in hand, some of which resulted in some brilliant tries. They showed that they don't have to cut the tie with those traditional strengths in order to incorporate a more attacking mindset. 

It's not the finished product, but there were enough examples to give an indication of what the Boks can become.

Eben Etzebeth is tackled by Patrick Tuipulotu of New Zealand at Loftus Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Eben Etzebeth is tackled by Patrick Tuipulotu of New Zealand at Loftus Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

A third aspect that was again shown and caught the eye - although it's one that has never been a secret - is the firepower the Boks have at their disposal. 

The introduction of Aphiwe Dyantyi to the international stage has certainly been the Springboks' finest revelation this season. 

His meteoric rise and try-celebration, which has rapidly become a familiar sight, makes him just one member of a backline that can do damage if they get it right on the day.

But that firepower goes further than the backline, it stretches into the single-digit jerseys as well, that's for sure.

And as we saw a good few times during the Rugby Championship, the Boks have enough individuals that can make the team a real force. 


IOL Sport

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