The 11-9 quarter final loss to the Australian Wallabies ended what was deemed as South Africa’s golden generation of Springbok rugby players. It is saddening to know that we shall never see Victor Matfield, John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Johann Muller, Fourie Du Preez and possibly even Butch James don the green and gold of the springboks that has so often than not unified this beloved country of ours.
Between Matfield and Smit alone they bolster over 200 caps of invaluable experience which no other tom dick or harry can replace. These men have been the core and the balance of the Springboks for nearly a decade; they have achieved all that has to be achieved in international rugby. Matfield, Du Preez and Botha have 3 super rugby titles, John Smit has one, 2 tri-nations titles, participated in 3 world cup tournaments with the cherry on top being the eventual winners in France in 2007 and not forgetting the 2-1 series triumph of the British and Irish Lions( the best players from the northern hemisphere) in 2009. These players have broken records almost at will with Captain John Smit holding the record for the most international caps as captain for any international team in world rugby.
This golden generation not only boasts a lot of experience but they have literally been a generation that has coached itself, they have devised tactics against numerous opposition to great effect. One notable and famous victory that springs to mind is the win over the New Zealand All blacks in 2008 at the dreaded Carisbrooke stadium in Dunedin also commonly known as the house of pain. Again these players played a central and vitally important role in what was the Springboks first ever test win at the venue. Going down to the Wallabies in that quarter final was rather a bitter pill to swallow for these elite players, they would have been happier to bow out in a more glorious fashion with a second successive world cup to their names.
Never the less the country salutes their incredible contributions to a nation that so desperately needed an identity and the country wishes them the best of luck in their future endeavours as they retire from the beautiful game we call rugby