Schmidt's delight as Irish make history in Boks win
Head coach Joe Schmidt was left lost for words after his squad made history on one of Irish rugby's greatest days.
Having never before won on South African soil, Rory Best and his men put in a showing of real resilience to end that hoodoo on Saturday despite a questionable first-half red card for flanker CJ Stander whose fate for the rest of the tour will be determined at a disciplinary hearing today.
Rather than find themselves rocked by the adversity of having to play with 14, Ireland flourished and, even with Ulster wing Andrew Trimble having to offer his services in the scrum, Paddy Jackson filled the boots of Johnny Sexton superbly to keep the scoreboard ticking over in what was a 26-20 triumph in Cape Town.
"It's pretty hard to put into words really," Schmidt (below) said of inflicting the first defeat the Springboks have suffered at Newlands since 2009.
"I thought it was an incredibly collective effort. The nine minutes before half-time when we were down to 13 players (after Robbie Henshaw's yellow card), to just put them out in the corner, just to scramble and work as hard as the players did to keep them out.
"There was almost a direct repeat at the end of the second half again.
"To their attacking left hand corner, we managed to scramble across and three for four players turned up to avoid the try being scored.
"For the players, I think they can be incredibly proud of the effort they put in."
The Kiwi head coach - whose future beyond next summer is still the subject of conjecture with reports in his homeland yesterday linking him with the Highlanders job - added that he hoped Stander would face no further sanction after his 23rd minute dismissal for a collision with Pat Lambie.
"We'd love to have him available, we're going to find out in the next couple of days what, if any, consequences there are from his attempted charge-down," he said.
"So, we'd be delighted to get him back if that's possible. If we don't, this is a 32-man squad, there are 32 players working to try and be selected and it means somebody else will step up and fill the breach.
"I thought the red card was very, very harsh to be honest. CJ's got both hands extended, once you're in the air you can't change your trajectory.
"The one thing I would say, I think Pat Lambie's a super player, I certainly hope that Pat's okay. I know CJ and Pat are friends, and that they know each other.
"CJ was upset that Pat was hurt as much as he was upset that he had to leave the field. It's one of those thing that happens. I think, sometimes, when there is an injury like that, the consequence is that a card comes out and that was the result."
A real feather in the cap for Best's Ireland captaincy, he and his Ulster teammates were superb.
The skipper hailed the efforts of the entire squad.
"We knew to come here and get a victory would be unbelievably tough and require a massive physical performance," Best told the TV cameras in the immediate aftermath.
"We dug really deep to get that win. If we had sat back and kept giving them ball we would have eventually run out of steam, so we had to take the game to them.
"There are a lot of tired boys who are running on empty now after the euphoria of the win."
The only teams to ever win a series in South Africa are the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions; that is now the prize on offer for Ireland in the altitude of Johannesburg this weekend.
• It was not only the senior team making history on Saturday with the under-20s beating their New Zealand counterparts in Manchester.
No Irish men's side had ever beaten the All Blacks but Nigel Carolan's boys came out 33-24 winners in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship pool game. Ballymena hooker Adam McBurney overcame a yellow card to score a try in the win, with soon-to-be Ballynahinch out-half Johnny McPhillips providing eight points off the bench with his boot. Ireland will meet Georgia on Wednesday aiming to book their place in the last four.