Crowd’s incredible reaction as Faf de Klerk walked out after horror injury
The scenes in the opening seconds of South Africa’s win over the All Blacks on Saturday were genuinely troubling after Faf de Klerk was knocked out cold.
The scrum-half was struck on the head by the knee of All Blacks winger Caleb Clarke after rushing out of the line and immediately collapsed to the floor and lay prone on the pitch. The 30-year-old was unconscious and did not move at all for a while as medical staff rushed to his aid. He was eventually stretchered off the field, but it was a moment of great concern for everyone watching the match.
The great news was that 20 minutes later de Klerk emerged from the changing rooms to join the substitutes bench at the Mbombela Stadium and was met by a rapturous ovation from the crowd. The No9 was smiling and thanked the crowd for their support which was a promising sign for his future. With that said, it would be hugely surprising, as well as controversial, if he plays again in round two of the Rugby Championship against the All Blacks again, or indeed later on in the tournament.
Despite this early setback, and the fact that the Springboks had a 6-2 split on the bench (meaning they only had one more substitute in the backs after de Klerk went off), the Springboks were not deterred by this. Jaden Hendrikse played almost the entire match as a result, and was pivotal in pinning the All Blacks back in their own half thanks to his kicking game, as South Africa went on to win 26-10.
De Klerk’s injury was a freak accident, but was a byproduct of the intensity of the South African defence, which Jacques Nienaber talked about after the game. He said “We spoke about it in the week and all we asked was to pitch up with intensity and try and be accurate in what we had planned, and I thought we did it well.”
Take a look at the incident: