Party atmosphere at Loftus as fans bid farewell to the Springboks

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis was the match's flag bearer.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis was the match's flag bearer.
Image: Springboks/Twitter

It's not often a Springbok Test that's meaningless from a Championship perspective has a celebratory mood.

This game though had a party atmosphere, something  not always associated with Springbok Tests.

With the Springboks having clinched the Rugby Championship the week before and this match being their final home game before the Rugby World Cup, the hair had to be let down a bit.

It may not have been full, but there was plenty for the crowd to enjoy, especially with the warm weather that became balmy when the sun disappeared.

In what has been a short, but brutal Highveld winter, the least the South African fans had an opportunity to bask in what essentially was a farewell Test.

In more ways than one, there's a number of players who featured for the Springboks who won't be playing in a similar Test in four years time.

One of them was captain and hooker Schalk Brits, who out of the 46 match-day players, was the only one who was a first team player at the turn of the millennium.

In 1999 when Brits was a gun player for Paul Roos Gimnasium, a large number of his team mates were still in primary school.

His reserve Siyabonga “Scarra” Ntubeni, was yet to graduate into proper age group rugby in 1999. They say a day is a long time, but 20 years can be a life-time.

In that period, Brits has walked the full rugby journey and was the proper “Oom” of the team. He didn't play like one though and he hardly does.

However, the point had been proven last week and his ticket to Japan has been booked.

Despite the large number of blue seats, the festive atmosphere in the sea of green hardly dissipated.

The one thing with Loftus Versfeld is that the patrons actually watch the game and go quiet during moments of intense action.

The enclosed nature of the Loftus Versfeld media centre means we miss out on the ambience of the ground.

However, the game here is watched with a fair bit of reverence, something that's absent at most of SA's Test grounds.

The next question now is whether the Springboks can actually meet the expectation they've built over this year.

The result in this game was never an issue, but in drawing with the All Blacks and beating Australia and Argentina, they're expected to be more than just competitive at the World Cup.

All eyes will now shift to the Yokohama game against the All Blacks, which, for all intents and purposes, will be a blockbuster on September 21.

Unlike in 2015, where the Argentina banana peel in Durban was papered over until the Japan blow-out in Brighton, the bases seems to be covered here.

The World Cup can't start soon enough. The next month and something is going to very long.