The Frans Steyn Super Rugby final disaster that created a World Champion
Frans Steyn was only 20-years-old when he played in his first Super Rugby final for the Sharks vs Bulls back in 2007.
This match is widely regarded as one of the best Super Rugby finals of all time with two star-studded South African sides fighting it out in front of a capacity crowd of 54,000
Steyn played on the left-wing in this encounter and had been a breakout star for the Sharks that season and was hotly tipped to play a key role in South Africa’s upcoming World Cup campaign in France
The young winger impressed throughout the final and with only three minutes left on the clock – a well-worked forwards try from the Sharks looked to have sealed the trophy
The score was 19-13 and with the six-point lead Steyn only had to get the conversion to take the game out of reach of the Bulls.
Steyn missed the crucial kick and with only two minutes remaining on the clock the Bulls had to score a converted try to snatch an unlikely Super Rugby triumph
The Bulls threw everything they could at the Sharks building phase after phase but the defence held firm
With literally seconds left on the clock the ball was kicked through for the rookie winger who gathered as the clock went over the 80-minute-mark
All Steyn had to do to seal the win for his side was to kick it dead but instead, the youngster booted it long downfield back into play, giving the Bulls a lifeline to launch one final attack
Again, they launched phase after phase until finally, deep into added time, the ball fell out wide to Bryan Habana who showed electric pace to step around exhausted covering Sharks defenders and to score
Now it was Derick Hougaard who only had to slot the conversion for the trophy win
He showed sublime composure to convert the kick and seal a 19-20 Super Rugby win for the Bulls
This was a tough learning curve for the young Steyn who received criticism after the final-loss
It was, however, only the beginning for him and a core group of South Africans who featured in this classic contest. Many of the players who played in this Super Rugby final went on to star in the victorious 2007 World Cup campaign later that year
This fiercely fought final no doubt was vital for the whole team and especially Frans Steyn who less than six months later gave a commanding performance in the final against England to claim the Webb Ellis Cup for his nation.