Florence - South Africa coach Allister Coetzee admitted enduring the "darkest moment" of his coaching career after Saturday's historic 20-18 defeat by Italy in Florence left his future hanging in the balance.
Ranked fourth in the world, the two-time World Cup-winning Springboks' maiden defeat to a new-look Italy side was their sixth Test reverse in seven outings.
Recently, the South Africans lost heavily to New Zealand (57-15) and their 37-21 loss to England at Twickenham a week ago was their first reverse to the Red Roses in a decade.
On Saturday, South Africa spurned several chances to put "back-to-back points" on the board in a thrilling encounter in Florence that made the Italians so happy they played the national anthem at the end of the game, as well as the start.
Coetzee cut a glum figure afterwards but said he would, or could, not resign: "That is out of my hands. But definitely, that is not Springboks standard.
"I'd say it's the darkest moment of my coaching career. The toughest. But I don't want to look at it emotionally now, because emotions are high."
Doubts over South Africa began to creep in following their historic loss to Japan at the 2015 World Cup in England.
Ahead of Saturday's game, Boks fans at home and abroad expressed fears of a "repeat of Brighton".
Coetzee added: "It's not good enough losing to Japan or Italy. No disrespect to Italy, they deserved their victory today.
"I can only congratulate on an outstanding performance from a team that has maybe lacked belief, and a young team without any pressure on them."
A fan backlash on social media suggests change is in the air for one of rugby's most formidable sides.
A statement from South African rugby chiefs suggested a knee-jerk reaction would not be made.