FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) – The South African camp apologised to their nation after suffering a first-ever rugby defeat by Italy on Saturday.
Allister Coetzee described the 20-18 reverse as the darkest moment of his coaching career while captain Adriaan Strauss said South African rugby was in a “dark place”.
Italy’s victory represented the Springboks’ second successive defeat in the autumn internationals after their 37-21 hammering by England last weekend.
It was also the world’s fourth-ranked team’s seventh defeat in 11 internationals this year and their first by Italy in 13 meetings.
In a statement described as an apology to the South African nation, Strauss said: “We are not going to offer any excuses. What happened today was not worthy of what we stand for as a team and as a rugby-playing country.
“We are in a dark place at the moment and we must get ourselves out of it.”
Coetzee said: “No disrespect but it’s not good enough for the Springboks to lose to Italy. I can only congratulate them on an outstanding victory.
“Compared to us they played without any pressure on them while we looked like a team that lacked self-belief and had a fear of failure.
“I would say it’s the darkest moment of my coaching career.”
(Reporting by Neville Dalton; Editing by Tony Jimenez)