National rugby coach Allister Coetzee and his Springboks were heading in the right direction prior to their Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand at the weekend. Optimism was high that the Boks could restore national pride.
Then -- boom! New Zealand happened.
The All Blacks recorded their biggest win over the Springboks, with a 57-0 thumping in Albany, New Zealand. Coetzee tried his best, plaintively whimpering: "One loss doesn't define this team."
HuffPost SA takes a look at five signs the Springboks were bound to get thrashed by the All Blacks.
1. The strongest starting XV
Coetzee chose not to stick to his guns and a constant change in the starting XV means the team loses cohesion and chemistry.
Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit was surprisingly left out of the All Blacks game after he put in a man-of-the-match performance against Australia. Hooker Bongi Mbonambi also had a game to forget as the forward trio were punished by the All Blacks.
Coetzee's faith in fly half Elton Jantjies will be questioned, following another lacklustre display. This will arguably raise questions as to why Handré Pollard should not start ahead of him. Damian de Allende is another player that should have started for his sheer experience and physicality as the Boks' backline.
The shameful record loss further highlights how the Boks clearly lack experience in the Coetzee era. A constant change in the lineup certainly affected the Boks and perhaps it is time for Coetzee to stick to his strongest possible starting lineup. Continuity is important.
2. The All Blacks are still the best
"We kept on fighting and there were passages of great defence, passages of attack -- but in the end not good enough," admits coach Coetzee. The main reason why the Boks couldn't score was down to the fact that New Zealand is still the best in the world.
The All Blacks are a dominant force and they showed why they are the top side in the world. There was talk of a decline in performance, but that was rubbished when they put in a clinical display and recorded their highest-ever victory. Perhaps the Springboks were that bad, but it would be ludicrous to forget that the All Blacks are that great.
3. Domestic woes starting to show
The last time a South African team won a Super Rugby championship was back in 2009. The Golden Lions have come agonisingly close in 2016 and 2017. Super Rugby -- which is an international league that consist of teams from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Japan -- is a vital league that determines the makeup of a national team.
To put it bluntly, if South African teams do well in Super Rugby, the Springboks do well. In 2007, when the Vodacom Blue Bulls won Super Rugby, the Springboks won the IRB World Cup. When the Bulls won the same competition again in 2009, the Springboks won the Tri-Nations against Australia and New Zealand.
Perhaps South African Rugby needs to fix the internal and domestic woes so that our national team has a place to shine.
4. Lack of experience
Of the 15 players that played on Saturday, almost of half had fewer than 10 international caps. In a game against New Zealand, the experience is vital. Perhaps we fell short because we do not have the likes of Victor Matfield, John Smit and Bakkies Botha at our disposal that our junior members can learn from.
Tendai Mtawarira was the most capped with 96 appearances, with Eben Etzebeth coming in with 60 caps and Jan Serfontein with only 32 caps. You simply cannot buy experience.
5. A case of Bafana syndrome
One thing South Africans need to take into consideration, is that the Coetzee-era Boks are a work in progress. With transformation being the main agenda with the Bok team, it is important to note that it will take a while for South Africa to become the best again.
The loss also culminated in a trend on Twitter as disappointed fans took to social media to express how they felt about the Springboks.