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Top 10 Springbok Tries of 2021

It wasn’t always pretty, but even staunch critics can’t deny the Springboks put together quite the highlight-reel of remarkable tries this year, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

It wasn’t always pretty, but even staunch critics can’t deny the Springboks put together quite the highlight-reel of remarkable tries this year, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Back in business after the Covid pandemic wiped out their entire 2020 season, the world champions stayed true to their power-based brand of rugby.

However, it wasn’t all steak and no sizzle from the South Africans as they produced moments of magic that got their supporters jumping out of their seats and left naysayers gobsmacked.

Here are our top 10 tries by the men in green and gold in 2021:

10: Putting In The Hard Yards

Willie le Roux didn’t have the greatest season, to put it mildly, but not for a lack of effort as the veteran fullback showed when he put in serious work to set up try-scoring machine Makazole Mapimpi in the second Test against Argentina.

9: What Dreams Are Made Of

It doesn’t get any better than scoring with your very first touch of the ball in Test rugby. Fate smiled on Aphelele Fassi, who still had plenty to do after receiving the ball during a silky smooth sweeping move early on in the season-opening game against Georgia and made it look easy as he outstripped the cover defence and dotted down in the corner.

8: Switching Things Up

Having tried in vain to bash over the try line in the first half of the second meeting with the Wallabies, Faf de Klerk identified the need to switch things up, and an ingenious piercing grubber in-goal down the blindside for Lukhanyo Am to dive onto did the trick following fast hands by Le Roux in the momentum-building preceding phase.

7: The Future Has Arrived

Jaden Hendrikse announced himself on the Test stage in style against Argentina. Hard-running Marco van Staden laid the platform as he pin-balled off two Pumas, with Morne Steyn summing up the situation and quickly shipping the ball to the blue-chip scrumhalf, who banked a try on debut with an impressive piece of finishing.

6: Back With A Bang

After 19 long months in Covid-enforced limbo, the Springboks emerged from the shadows against Georgia at Ellis Park, where attacking endeavor from inside their 22 saw the ball whisked to debutant Fassi, who chipped ahead. Cobus Reinach pounced and showed the pace he inherited from his father, Jaco, a Springbok wing in his day, to dart in under the posts.

5: Hand Of Applause

Fassi’s outstanding one-handed grab of Elton Jantjies’ immaculate crosskick to score in the Rugby Championship opener against the Pumas was ridiculous! Rewatch the full sequence, though, and the accuracy of Reinach’s box kick and yeoman work of Eben Etzebeth make an already memorable score that much more special.

4: On The Same Page

The precision and shared vision it took to pull off this pearler in the do-or-die second Test of the British & Irish Lions series cannot be overstated. The foresight and weighted grubber from De Klerk with his less fancied right foot to thread the needle and alertness and acceleration of Am to dot down in the nick of time were simply sublime.

3: Pressure Produces Diamond

A series-shifting moment. Down 1-0 and trailing 9-6 at the start of the second half of the second Test against the British & Irish Lions, things looked bleak for the Springboks. However, diamonds are made under pressure and the pair of Handre Pollard and Mapimpi produced an absolute gem, the former executing a pinpoint chip and the latter plucking it out of the air and powering over for a stunning try that proved to be the turning point of the series.

2: Mind-blowing Maestro

Understated genius Am blew fans’ minds when he whipped up an unbelievable bit of skill to stun the All Blacks. Pouncing on Codie Taylor’s handling error, Am’s quiet confidence and creativity saw him pull an audacious behind-the-back ball out of his bag of tricks to Sbu Nkosi, who pump-faked, pulled in Jordie Barrett, and put Damian de Allende over in the corner to help propel the Springboks to a famous 31-29 win.

1: Legendary Lion-tamer

The biggest little man in the game stood tall when it mattered most, producing a Man of the Match performance in the deciding Test to inspire the Springboks to British & Irish Lions series glory. Am was once again involved as he rebounded from an aerial battle between Jasper Wiese and Duhan van der Merwe. 

The ever-present center offloaded Le Roux, who made the crucial decision to go to Kolbe on his outside instead of Reinach on his inside. Seizing the moment, the pint-sized wizard weaved his magic as he waltzed past Liam Williams before fending off Luke Cowan-Dickie to score a match-changing classic, with the Springboks going on to claim a thrilling 19-16 victory. 

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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