The past decade saw the Springboks rise from record lows to ultimate triumph, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
With the building blocks having been put in place in 2012, Heyneke Meyer’s second season at the helm was a rip-roaring success. The developing Springboks won 10 of their 12 Tests, including a Rugby Championship record 73-13 pummelling of the Pumas in Soweto, a runaway 38-12 win over the Wallabies – the first-ever victory in Brisbane – and a 28-0 whitewash of Scotland at Murrayfield.
The resurgence was real, with the men in Green and Gold losing only to the all-conquering All Blacks, who retained the Rugby Championship after a second successive unbeaten campaign. Meyer also blooded several rising stars such as Willie le Roux, Jan Serfontein, Jano Vermaak, Trevor Nyakane, Lourens Adriaanse and Arno Botha.
Another new face was that of the towering Pieter-Steph du Toit. A young, athletic lock, he made his Springbok debut off the bench in the 24-15 win over Wales in Cardiff during the end-of-year tour. The 21-year-old looked a blue-chip prospect and he would go on to fulfil his prodigious potential and then some as he became one of the modern-day Springbok giants.
Then there was one Siya Kolisi, a rough diamond from Zwide, an impoverished township in Port Elizabeth. Rugby served as an escape for a young Kolisi – an escape from the grim reality of the crime and circumstances he and his family faced – and was ultimately his way out.