20 Nov 2016

Azzurri shock the Boks

11:08 am on 20 November 2016

The South African camp apologised to their nation after suffering a first-ever rugby defeat by Italy.

Springboks coach Allister Coetzee says it's always a big battle when they clash with the All Blacks, and tonight will be no different.

Springboks coach Allister Coetzee Photo: Photosport

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."

Meanwhile England humbled Fiji 58-15 in London and Wales needed an 80th minute drop goal from Sam Davies to beat Japan 33-30 in Cardiff.