Jake White blamed inexperience for the test defeat against England.
The Bok coach told the media that inexperience in the last quarter had cost South Africa a first win at Twickenham in 10 years.
“I don’t think some of the guys could believe they were leading England 18-6 with 12 or so minutes to go. It was a lack of experience that cost us in the end. We made bad mistakes and lacked composure at critical times.”
Bok captain John Smit added that he could not explain the implosion in the last quarter.
“We felt we played the rugby. We felt we lost it more than they won it. But you have to give them credit for showing the character to come back and win it. It was frustrating to lose the way we did,” said Smit. “The lesson to the new guys is that you have to work to close the deal in a test match. We were one score away from closing out the test, but we didn’t get it.”
While White said inexperience had cost his side, the decision-making of the very experienced Jean de Villiers was the most damning of the afternoon.
De Villiers, so often the darling of the Boks, was the villain when he failed to offload from an intercept in the first half. Instead he went for glory and got tackled by Josh Lewsey. Akona Ndungane was unmarked on his inside and it would have been a certain seven pointer for the Boks.
Worse was to follow for the Boks when De Villiers was sin-binned early in the second half for a professional foul. England scored seven points while De Villiers was in the sin bin and fought their way back into the game.
White said he could not explain De Villiers’s two brain explosions.
“What do you say?” White asked, lost for some kind of explanation. “There was no need to give away the professional foul. We were controlling the game. They were the ones under pressure.”
Even more perplexing was De Villiers’s failure to offload to Ndungane. De Villiers is recognised as the most creative of the Bok backs. Not so on Saturday – and it is a Saturday that will haunt him for some time.