Vintage year for Boks
Vintage year for BoksSHARE
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has hailed his team as one of the best in the country's history after losing only to the All Blacks this year.
The Boks ended 2013 with 10 wins out of 12 Tests following a 19-10 victory over France in Paris on Saturday, leaving their skipper satisfied after an unbeaten European tour.
The Springboks put in a polished and controlled performance at the Stade de France and never looked likely to lose after JP Pietersen's second minute try after the wing had charged down Morgan Parra's poor clearing kick.
France struggled to put pressure on the Springboks despite Yoann Huget's try at the end of the first period and played most of the match in their own half.
"We're very happy with the last 12 months, if you take the end of the last year as well, that's 13 (wins) from 15," said de Villiers following the Springboks' success at the Stade de France.
"It makes it results-wise one of the best years South African rugby's had in a very long time.
"To really be honest, and not sound arrogant, we didn't play well tonight (Saturday) from a performance point of view. But this game was just about winning it, first of all.
"Secondly, we haven't won here (in France) in 16 years. We've got massive respect for the French and what they've achieved over the years. We knew it would be ugly tonight but we just had to win."
The result, on the back of a 24-15 victory against Six Nations champions Wales and 28-0 thrashing of Scotland, cemented South Africa's status as the second best side in the world.
In fact, their only two defeats in 2013 have come against the best in the world but de Villiers added this tour has been part of the process of trying to catch up with world champions New Zealand.
"For us it's not the end of the year, it's just another step in our journey towards where we want to be and where we're going," he said.
"We're happy with the result. It's six months before we play again and when we meet together again, we hope to just keep on improving."