Reading the recollections of the players got The Tig thinking back to that famous night when South Africa were beaten at Welford Road. Here is the list of those memories, in order of how quickly they came to mind:
1 The final whistle. It seemed like the last 10 minutes had lasted for ever. The photos of the players say it all – they looked absolutely shattered and totally elated.
2 The noise. It was deafening in that closing period when Tigers were camped on their own line. Thinking about it now, that was the moment when an “interesting night out” reached a point of realisation that our team could actually beat international visitors. The 26,000 in the stands and 15 on the pitch were determined at that point it was going to happen.
3 Craig Hammond. The Kiwi-born Nottingham flanker who was only introduced to his team-mates on the day of the game but came off the bench early and tackled himself and the Boks to a standstill. Guts personified. Friends at Nottingham said it was nothing less than they expected of their hero.
4 The front row. Seeing Springboks players suffering against that Tigers pack. Did Steenkamp and Chilliboy both go home injured before the end of the tour? One of the players at the time said Castro had told them “No one comes here and wins” as they prepared for kick-off. The front row – also featuring Mefin Davies and Boris Stankovich – led the way in keeping that promise.
5 Ben Youngs’ first kick. It kept low, it felt short, it looked like it would be a long night.
7 The rest of Ben’s kicks. Perfect, including the one from halfway.
8 The kids. Not just Manu but also Andy Forsyth, Calum Green, Ben Pienaar, Dan Hemingway and Tom Armes.
9 Earl Rose. Class at full-back for the Springboks.
10 Lucas Amorosino’s try. In all honesty, from that night I probably just remember him dotting it down. But, having seen the replay many times since, it’s the link between Johne Murphy and Manu Tuilagi that he finishes off with a superb step and a change of pace.
Forced to think about it now 10 years on, so many of those memories are still so clear. A great night indeed.