Cape Town – Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth has called on disgruntled fans not to vent their anger towards the players’ loved ones.
Etzebeth was speaking in the wake of the Springboks’ 57-0 thrashing at the hands of the All Blacks in Albany last Saturday.
It was the worst defeat in the history of Springbok rugby dating back to 1891.
In an interview with Netwerk24, Etzebeth said the wives and girlfriends of some of the Boks had been subjected to "nasty" messages upon the South Africans' return to Johannesburg.
"I can understand people being upset with us. They're allowed to be - but keep our families out of it," Etzebeth said.
"There are some terrible people out there, saying some nasty things to our wives and girlfriends, and that's not nice (to hear)."
Etzebeth admitted being surprised by the backlash from the South African rugby public and the reception the team received.
"There are still a few people that wanted to take pictures with us and that applauded us when we got home.
"But, yes, there were plenty of people that were extremely negative. We understand that, but we always give our all (on the pitch)," Etzebeth said.
In the overall head-to-head stakes, the All Backs now boast a 56-35 win-loss record, with three draws.
Even more alarming from a Springbok perspective is that since rugby turned professional in 1996, the All Blacks have won 38 matches compared to a meagre 14 by South Africa.
The Kiwis have also won 10 of the last 11 Tests between the two nations.
The next Test between the teams is scheduled for Newlands in Cape Town on October 7.