Cape Town - While the Springboks’ 23-18 victory over Wales in the first Test of their end-of-year tour wasn’t the ultimate advert for rugby, their character was.
In saying it wasn’t the best display of the game, that first half especially comes to mind, more so when you consider the errors and how the Boks were their own worst enemy at times.
But they fought back from that and overcame it, and that alone is one of the things that made this victory a huge one.
After trailing 12-9 at half-time after only keeping the scoreboard ticking with penalties, the Boks scored the decisive try through replacement hooker Malcolm Marx in the 73rd minute, with Elton Jantjies connecting with a penalty right at the end.
This was the Boks’ first win in five Tests against Wales in Cardiff. In their last meeting, the Springboks edged the Welsh 19-16 in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals in Japan.
With that result, the Springboks broke their eight-year drought in Cardiff, and the way in which they did it was just as significant and telling.
Upping their game and getting back into it after a first half like that is one thing, and the fact that the South Africans’ day started off in such a bizarre way only added to how impressive it was.
With a fire alarm going off at their hotel twice and disrupting their sleep and naturally, their earlymorning doings, you can’t blame those who believe that it was more than just bad luck.
It mattered not in the end, though, as the Boks showed their unmatched character yet again.
Speaking after the game, captain Siya Kolisi said: “We know the kind of team Wales are, it’s always been tough when we play against them. We know they are going to go for 80 minutes.
“But we work really hard and also I think it’s just a South African thing. We come from a country where people just don’t accept defeat.
“That’s one thing we pride ourselves in; the coach knows we can go to tough places and we are able to live there for a very long time.
“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.”
After what the Boks have achieved this season, despite the odds, I doubt anybody would argue with Kolisi when it comes to that
The Springboks now head to Murrayfield to face a niggly Scotland.
It will be the first meeting between the two nations since 2018 when South Africa beat their hosts 26-20. The last time the Boks lost to Scotland was in 2010.
After Scotland, the Boks travel to Twickenham to finish off their tour against England on November 20.