Golden Springbok Moments: 2003 Rugby World Cup

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The Springboks have enjoyed many magical moments on the biggest stage of them all since they shook up the world in their triumphant maiden appearance in the global showpiece in 1995, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

As excitement continues to build for the 2019 Rugby World Cup that kicks off in Japan on September 20, we take a trip down memory lane in a six-part series in which we highlight the Springboks‘ most memorable World Cup moments.

The 2003 World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, was an absolute disaster from a South African perspective – a tumultuous tournament remembered for all the wrong reasons.

There were predictable victories over Uruguay (72-6), Georgia (46-19) and Samoa (60-10), but when it came to the crunch clashes, they were blown away. In what was essentially the Pool C decider against England, the Corne Krige-led Springboks offered little resistance and managed just two penalties by flyhalf Louis Koen in their 25-6 defeat in Perth.

This meant a dreaded quarterfinal meeting with the All Blacks in Melbourne, where they were easily dispatched again. Three penalties by Derick Hougaard, back in the No.10 jersey, were all the Springboks could muster as they crashed out of the competition following the 29-9 loss to their arch-rivals.

Soon after South Africa’s unceremonious exit, the bombshell of the now-infamous “Kamp Staaldraad” dropped. The shocking revelations of coach Rudolph Straeuli’s military-style World Cup training camp explained a lot about the team’s poor performance at the global showpiece.

The most memorable moment of the tournament involving a Springbok player was Brian Lima’s bone-crunching tackle on Hougaard during the pool stages – when “Liefling” found out first hand why the Samoan inside centre was known as “The Chiropractor” – but that’s hardly a golden Springbok moment.

As far as standout moments during the doomed campaign go, there were just two.

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