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‘The most incredible half-time team talk I have ever heard’

By Jon Newcombe
Damian de Allende is the specialist 12 and is likely to be selected against France for the all-important quarter-final (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Springbok centre Damian de Allende has revealed the surprise source of inspiration for South Africa’s Rugby World Cup win in 2019 on RPTV show, Walk the Talk.

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De Allende, a key – but often under-rated – figure in the Springboks team, started at centre in the 32-12 win in Yokohama City and was then in the thick of the action again as the Springboks went back-to-back in 2023 with victory over the All Blacks.

Against England five years ago, neither team had managed to score a try in a tentative first half dominated by the kicking of Handrè Pollard and Owen Farrell.

Needing inspiration, up stepped one of the quiet men of the team, Pieter-Steph du Toit. Normally someone to let his actions speak for him rather than words, the tough-as-teak flanker let rip into his team-mates.

Often under-stated himself, de Allende opens up like you have never seen before in conversation with former Scotland international Jim Hamilton, revealing what went on in the Springboks’ inner sanctum.

“My wife, she says to me, sometimes I expect things to happen and I am very placid, and that’s what it felt like against England at half-time, it was dead, there was no atmosphere. It felt like everyone was waiting for someone else to do something first.

“So it was f****** nice to have Pieter-Steph, the quiet guy who doesn’t say much but who always pitches up in games throws his body around week in week out, to stand up and say something.

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“I have always had a lot of respect for Pieter-Steph. Not just from rugby but from the person he is as well as the family man that he is.

“It felt like he had a go at everyone, he just said it feels like we are all scared of making a mistake. It came at the perfect time and luckily it worked. You could see the belief kicking in, in the last 20 minutes.

It is probably the best half-time team talk that I had ever heard.”

As is well known, Pollard’s boot stretched the Springboks’ lead into double figures from the half-time score of 12-6, before late tries from Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe secured the victory.

Whilst de Allende was all for the noise that du Toit delivered during that half-time team talk, he has been enjoying the relative quiet life as a player in recent times, in Japan with League One runners-up, Saitama Wild Knights.

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“I love it. The general thing for me life in Japan is a bit more relaxed. After training you can go out and be yourself more and be a normal human being,” he says.

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Even when de Allende is with the Springboks, as he is now, the focus very rarely falls on the often underrated 32-year-old.

But having been benched for the first time since RWC 2019 in the 41-13 win against Wales last weekend, the 79-cap midfielder is being tipped by former Springbok centre Jean de Villiers in the latest episode of RPTV’s Boks Office, to come into the starting line-up for next Saturday’s seismic first Test against Ireland in place of Andre Esterhuizen.

Either way, team player is a role he has been happy to fulfil in his decade-long service for the Springboks.

“I know there is sacrifice within a team sport, which I love, and I think that’s why I appreciate team sports so much,” he says.

“You’ll always get individuals who’ll get more of the limelight than everyone else, and that’s just how it works out.

“But, for me, I always put the team first. I know I can do a lot more on the field but I know sometimes doing the basics f***** well is more important than doing the flash things, especially in Test rugby.”

In this episode of Walk the Talk, Jim Hamilton chats with double World Cup winner Damian de Allende about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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1 Comment
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Arno 27 days ago

I think you’re mistaking which game against England he is talking about. It was obviously the 2023 semifinal, not the 2019 final, since the PSDT speech is recorded in Chasing the Sun 2, which Jim Hamilton was referring to when talking to Damian.

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