Town - Thirteen Tests, seven wins, four losses and two draws.
That was the Springboks' record
in 2017 and while it was much better than the four wins and eight losses from
2016, it was far from satisfying.
Of course, the 57-0 loss to the All Blacks in Albany
and the 38-3 defeat to Ireland in Dublin stood out as serious lows, and those
two results effectively ruined what had been a promising year for the
Coach Allister Coetzee, fighting
for his job this week, had considered 2017 a fresh start where he was able to
assemble his own coaching staff and have more time with his players.
This was to be the year where it
started clicking for the former Stormers mentor and while he got off to a
flying start against a poor French side on home soil, things started to unravel
take a look at the 2017 Springbok season match by match:
Pretoria: SA 37-14 France
Coetzee unleashed no less than
five debutants in this match and as the Boks scored four tries on their way to
a comfortable win, it was the perfect start to the year. It became clear
quickly, though, that this French team was not as good as sides from the past
and that they would struggle in SA. It would also be the first of many massive
performances from Malcolm Marx in Bok colours, while Jan Serfontein also stood
up ahead of what would be a big year for him.
Durban: SA 37-15 France
The Boks, once more, got through
untroubled. There were four tries once more - two in each half - and Siya Kolisi
was named man of the match. The Stormers loose forward was in fantastic touch,
particularly on attack where he scored an impressive try and also set one up. Elton
Jantjies, meanwhile, had another solid display at flyhalf, kicking 7 from
June 24, Johannesburg:
SA 35-12 France
It was job done after this one as
the Springboks secured a commanding 3-0 series win against the French. They
took a while to get going, but two tries in the last 10 minutes made it
comfortable. Given the horrors of 2016, a series whitewash to kick off the new
season was exactly what Coetzee needed and there was a definite sense of
optimism surrounding the national side once more.
Port Elizabeth: SA 37-15 Argentina
The Rugby Championship campaign
got off to a solid start for the Boks as they put four tries past the Pumas.
They did not get the bonus point, though, as they conceded twice. Coenie
Oosthuizen was big for the Boks on the day while there was also an
international debut for Sharks youngster Curwin Bosch, who came off the bench
in the final minutes to give a shaky display at flyhalf.
Salta: Argentina 23-41 SA
The build-up to the match saw a
lot of Bok fans angered by the fact that the national side would be playing in
red. It didn't hamper their performance, though, as the Boks scored five tries
to two to secure a bonus-point win. Kolisi scored two himself as Coetzee
secured his first ever win away from home in his seventh attempt. Five games
into the year, the Boks had a perfect record and it looked like Coetzee was
starting to find his feet.
9, Perth: Australia 23-23 SA
This was the first real Test for
the Boks in 2017 and they didn't do themselves any favours in the first half
where they played their worst rugby of the year so far. The Boks had major
lineout problems while they made basic errors, but in the last 35 minutes they
were dominant. A win over the Wallabies away would have seen the Boks make a
major statement, and the end result certainly signified a golden opportunity
lost for Coetzee.
16, Albany: NZ 57-0 SA
All of the hard work and promise
shown by the Boks in 2017 was obliterated in 80 minutes when the All Blacks
illustrated how big the gap between the sides still was. It was the worst
result in the history of South African rugby and the Boks were absolutely
nowhere. The aftermath, as expected, was brutal. The Boks, and Coetzee, were
back to square one. This was also the last time that wing Raymond Rhule,
exposed defensively on the night, played for the national side.
30, Bloemfontein: SA 27-27 Australia
The Boks needed to bounce back
after the Albany disaster, but they didn't. This was a fixture they won in
2016, but the Wallabies were much-improved this time around. Jantjies had a
tough kick to win the game in the dying stages, but he missed a rare chance to
be a Bok hero. The post-match press conferences were heated, with Coetzee
lashing out at suggestions that assistant coach Johann van Graan was on his way
to Munster and Aussie coach Michael Cheika defending Israel Folau's
hair-pulling on Dillyn Leyds.
Cape Town: SA 24-25 NZ
The match of the year, even if
the Boks ended up on the losing side. They were on the ropes following the
Albany result and they needed a big showing. The forwards were immense for the
hosts and they ran the All Blacks close, but ultimately it was another loss to
the 'old foe'. The reaction to the game was almost one of celebration from a
South African perspective, emphasising just how far they had fallen behind the
All Blacks over the past few years. The Boks had won two, lost two and drawn
two at the end of their Rugby Championship, finishing third on the log.
11, Dublin: Ireland 38-3 SA
If Coetzee does lose his job,
this will be considered the final nail in his coffin. The Boks were abysmal.
Ireland beat them in the air with well-weighted contestable kicks while South
Africa's tactical kicking, from Ross Cronje in particular, was embarrassing.
Going into the tour, this was considered the toughest fixture for the Boks and
a win would have set things up nicely. But the result and how one-sided it was
did the opposite, and the Boks had almost ensured that their tour was a failure
just one game in.
18, Paris: France 17-18 SA
This was just a horrible game of
rugby that saw two struggling sides bash away at each other. The Boks came out
on top and it was a timely win given recent results, but the performance was
far from inspiring. This was also the game that saw Coetzee lose patience with
Jantjies as he brought in Handre Pollard for his first start since the 2015
World Cup. The Boks were back to winning ways, but few supporters felt that
they had turned the corner.
25, Padua: Italy 6-35 SA
There was no real contest here as
the Boks bullied the Italians up front and bashed their way to five converted
tries. There was to be no repeat of the Florence shock from 2016, but again the
Boks did not inspire much hope that things were improving. This Italian side is
seriously poor, and that the Boks had to rely on a forward-heavy display with a
full-strength side spoke volumes.
2, Cardiff: Wales 24-22 SA
The Boks were 14-0 down in no
time and did well to fight their way back into the match, but the damage was
done as they limped to another disappointing loss. Coetzee finally gave Warrick
Gelant a start and the Bulls speedster scored a try in a largely inconsistent
performance. After the match, Coetzee was grilled on his future but insisted
that his contract with the national side was until 2019 and that he wasn't
going anywhere. It brought the curtain down on a year that had promised much
but delivered little.