De Allende savours Springboks' World Cup win while locked down in Japan
CAPE TOWN - Being stuck in Japan during the coronavirus lockdown, with no immediate prospect of getting home to South Africa, has produced one positive for World Cup winner Damian de Allende.
It has given him time to digest the enormity of last November’s win in the tournament in Japan.
“Time flies during a World Cup tournament and it had really not sunk in just how we won it,” the Springbok centre told South Africa’s Netwerk24 newspaper group on Monday.
“Now I’ve had a chance to reflect on it all and I have a huge smile on my face whenever they show some highlights on TV.
“I’m very proud of what we as a team achieved. Not just for ourselves, but for our country.”
The 28-year-old midfielder was a key figure in the side, no more so than in the semi-final against Wales when he powered through the opposition for the opening try of the 19-16 victory in Yokohama.
“The only thing I remember is that we had a penalty advantage. I saw how Willie le Roux came in off the right hand side to create vital space in the line for us. When he sees a chance, he always does the best he can to take advantage of it.
“I just remember getting the ball, trying to use my feet and when I looked up I was dotting down for the try.
“It was a wonderful to stand there as my teammates all congratulated me. A special memory,” he said.
“Everything happens so quickly at a World Cup that you almost forget. But having a chance to sit down and reflect, the memories come flooding back.”
De Allende went back after the World Cup to play for Panasonic Wild Knights in the Japan Top League, but that has been cut short with just six rounds played before the rest of the season was cancelled.
De Allende tried to fly home as soon as the cessation of the season was announced but, by that time, flights had been grounded and he is cloistered with Springbok teammate Malcolm Marx, also unable to fly back before the lockdown imposed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Once he is able to leave Japan, De Allende will set off a new adventure with Munster in Ireland.
“I am keen for a new challenge and want to see the world,” he added.
“It was always a dream of mine to play overseas and to be able to work under Johann van Graan at Munster made the decision even easier.”
Van Graan is a former Springbok assistant coach.
“When I got the offer and had a bit of a discussion, I was left in no doubts. I’m very excited by what lies ahead,” De Allende said.Reuters