We have to concede credit where credit is due: South Africa played an incredible rugby match for 80 nerve-racking minutes, painfully defeating our All Blacks, who had perhaps been too sure of keeping the game in their favour following an outstanding championship season as well as an amazing string of 22 unbeaten games for the past two years.
Despite being beaten so closely, it also has to be said that this was a truly unforgettable game that brought some of the greater moments in rugby history back to memory.
But following a perhaps lacklustre first half, in which New Zealand conceded too many opportunities to score, the Kiwi team failed to succeed in sufficiently playing catch up later on – despite being at the top of the Investec Rugby Championship. A last-minute penalty by Patrick Lambie, clinched the win for South Africa.
The first Test between the two power teams three week earlier had already proven that New Zealand had once more found their match in South Africa’s Springboks, who set a precedent by driving the margin between the two teams down to an exciting contest. But in their home turf of Ellis Park, South Africa turned that margin even more in their favour, ultimately finishing 27-25.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said: “It was a great game of rugby and could have gone either way, but my heart tells me the Boks deserved it today.”
Although this defeat might be demoralising for the All Blacks, there is a silver lining: the pressure of continuing this incredibly undefeated run is off, and future successes – as well as defeats – will only be measured by the strengths of the game played and not by the expectation to prolong an almost super-human succession of victories.
We are still leading the world in rugby, and that is a fact that won’t easily be challenged or changed. And that alone deserves a Haka dance.