November is traditionally a busy rugby month as the Southern Hemisphere teams embark on their annual end-of-season tours north. 2014 was no different and this year’s schedule would take us to Dublin, west London and finally Padova, a town in Italy I had never heard of. (I did not make it to Cardiff this year).
First up was the short flight to Dublin, my second time in the city watching the Boks. The afternoon started much like the previous trip to watch the rugby with a fair few pints of Guinness at a number of different pubs and the mood very quickly turned festive.
Dublin is only a short flight away from the UK, and relatively cheap to visit, while South African passport holders do not need a visa to enter. As a result, the city was awash with green and gold, and there was a fantastic atmosphere in the build-up to the game. Expectations were high, and with Ireland missing a few players through injury, most were expecting a Bok victory.
Unlike in 2012, however, where we watched the Boks run out comfortable winners, this year saw a spirited and passionate Irish side comprehensively beat a lacklustre Springbok side. The passion of the 15 players on the park was matched by the full-house of roughly 50,000 inside the Aviva Stadium, and it was a rousing atmosphere. Hearing the rugby anthem, Ireland’s Call, always gives me goose-bumps and there is simply no way I couldn’t join in!
While dominant at scrum time, our back-line lacked penetration although we certainly has our opportunities and I fail to understand why captain Jean de Villiers opted for attacking line-outs versus trying to bag three points. Any momentum we had in the second half was halted by the late yellow card of replacement hooker Adriaan Strauss and in the end, to my mind we were simply beaten by the team that wanted it more.
While one never wants to lose, if there is one place to do so it is in Dublin …