The first Test between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions - a day so many believed may never arrive.
At various points over these last 18 months it felt like this tour would be just one more casualty of the sporting calendar brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the apparent inflexibility that dictated it would take place this summer or not at all lengthening the odds with every spike in cases.
While a third wave of the virus ravages the country, the tourists have arrived against the backdrop of a period of civil unrest as well with more than 300 people dying after widespread looting and burning of businesses began earlier this month after former President Jacob Zuma began serving a 15-month jail sentence.
President Cyril Ramaphosa went as far as to label the unrest an attempted “insurrection”.
Like so many of his compatriots abroad, former Ulster and World Cup winning Springbok BJ Botha spent much of last week making plenty of concerned phone-calls home to ascertain the safety of family and friends.
Despite it all, he believes this Test series, offering an all too rare slice of normality, will be a welcome salve for his troubled country.
"First and foremost, we were thinking a couple of months ago that this series wouldn't happen," says Botha, who won 25 caps for the 'Boks and spent three years at Kingspan Stadium.
"When the Lions were confirmed to travel down to South Africa, I think everyone just breathed that sigh of relief.
"Even then, when they're getting on the plane and there is talk of the lockdown coming in, and you breathed another sigh of relief when they actually took off.
"All these things have made it a very different tour. This is always the biggest tour that South Africa faces but this has been one with many twists along the way.
"It's great that the games are still happening, even in the civil unrest, the looting.
"You want to keep politics out of sport but you never can, not in South Africa. We've seen it through the years, the 1995 World Cup, the 2019 World Cup, and not only rugby, but that's what Siya Kolisi has said, we are for the people.
"They're very aware of who they're playing for and that it's so much bigger than playing for themselves. They know where they come from, where their family has come from, their friends have come from. The Springboks are that little bit of hope, even if it's just for a day, that's the reality.
"Of course, there are people losing their lives, and people who are very sick, but I don't think it would have been beneficial to call it off.
"It's keeping peoples' hopes up I think. People are looking forward to the weekend.
In South Africa, knowing that the Springboks are playing on the weekend, especially when they're winning, it really sets up the week and it's a huge part of our culture.
"It's a tough one, (whether) playing is the right thing to do, but on balance I think it was."
In another life Botha could have experienced a Lions tour himself. He was a part of a victorious World Cup squad in 2007 but, given how the series of 2009 was backed onto the end of the European season, he always knew a move north would end his chances of involvement.
"It feels like yesterday still, those memories of coming over,” he remembers. “The welcome that David Humphreys gave us, Matt McCullough coming to meet as at the airport, those are things that stay with me.
“I was 28-years-old when we arrived, my wife was pregnant, and at that stage of your life, especially as South Africans, you do miss that family part of things, with our first-born, these things you want to enjoy with your close family.
"It was a tough decision coming off the World Cup and knowing the Lions were coming the following year. There's was a lot from a rugby perspective to consider and from a personal perspective, expecting our first child.
"But we were welcomed with open arms and found like-minded people, I think that’s why so many South Africans find that they love life in Belfast.
"It's a country that has gone through its struggles, like South Africa, and I think that the other thing is that Ulster are clever in how they find players, not just during my time but after as well.
"They don't just target good rugby players but they target good people as well. Good team men who understand what they have to contribute.”
Botha would be part of the side that reached a first European quarter-final since the 1999 triumph, starting in the front-row alongside Tom Court and Rory Best against Northampton, and it as point of pride that he was part of the side that finally returned to the knock-outs after more than a decade of frustration.
He would leave at the end of his three-year contract to sign for Munster and remains in Limerick to this day – with the exception of a two season stint in France at the end of his career – where he has acted as a coach and consultant since hanging up his booths.
"Obviously it took away the chance of a Lions series because at that stage they'd made the decision that they wouldn't be choosing from outside the country for that tour in particular,” he says. “That was one part that, not that look back on with regret, but you look back and think that would have been a great thing to be part of.
"In another sense, you know I was playing Stade Francais in Paris or something like that and I had all these other experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
"When I made the decision, I knew the permutations. I knew that it was never going to be my decision whether I played for South Africa again but I backed myself to give them a reason that they'd have to pick me. Thankfully I was still getting caps for a few years after that. And you know, 13 years later, and we’ve a large family and we’re still in Ireland.
"(After France) it was coming back to what we know in Limerick. We loved our time in Belfast and after moving south, it was the same.
“The family is happy here and the kids are happy and that's the most important part.”
Not that he's gone fully native just yet...he describes himself as "quietly confident" of a Springboks victory over the coming weeks.