Japan v Springboks (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springboks’ Rugby World Cup defeat to Japan this past weekend was described as the biggest upset in the history of the Rugby World Cup.
I would go one better by saying it was the biggest upset in the history of rugby union and ranks as the most humiliating moment in the history of Springbok rugby.
There were a few poor results in the 1960s and many can still recall the 3-0 series loss to the British Lions in 1974, as well as this year’s first ever defeat to Argentina.
Sadly, the four most embarrassing Springbok defeats all occurred in recent times.
Here they are, in ranking order, with the Japan defeat topping the chart:
1. September 19, 2015: South Africa 32-34 Japan, Brighton
For me, this match is the worst result in the history of Springbok rugby.
The bookmakers had the Boks to win by 44 points beforehand, but the South Africans were outfoxed by a smarter team, who knew they had to move the ball around against their bigger, more fancied opponents.
Most of South Africa’s top provincial teams would beat Japan which makes the result the most embarrassing moment in Springbok rugby history.
2. November 23, 2002: England 53-3 South Africa, London
This game was part of a dark period in Springbok rugby, with Rudolph Straeuli as coach.
Lock Jannes Labuschagne was sent off in the 23rd minute for a late and dangerous tackle on English pivot Jonny Wilkinson.
It was a setback the Boks could never recover from as they suffered their heaviest ever defeat.
Things got so bad that a frustrated Bok skipper Corne Krige, attempting a punch at a ruck, accidentally knocked out his own flyhalf, Andre Pretorius.
Krige in later years admitted that it was the one game where he completely lost his cool, knowing that nothing could be done in order to avoid defeat.
Krige said the game had taken two years off his career and he was also upset as he felt some of the Springbok players gave up.
“In a sense - and this might sound bizarre - I would rather do what I did than chuck the towel in, as some of the other Springbok players did,” he wrote in his autobiography.
3. July 19, 2003: South Africa 16-52 New Zealand, Pretoria
Less than a year later, Straeuli and Krige suffered more humiliation when the Boks were pummelled by their greatest rivals at Loftus Versfeld.
The final whistle marked one of the lowest points in South Africa rugby history as home fans were left to contemplate a record losing margin, with the All Blacks running in seven tries to the solitary score from Bok wing Ashwin Willemse.
4. July 15, 2006: Australia 49-0 South Africa, Brisbane
The rampant Wallabies ran in six tries to record their biggest win over the Boks.
After the result, Springbok coach Jake White was flown back to South Africa to explain himself to the country’s rugby bosses.
White was almost fired but kept his job and went on to lead the team to World Cup glory in France the next year.