In a way it was fitting that inspirational Springbok captain Warren Whiteley was a notable absentee from the national side as they swept to a 35-12 victory over the Tricolores, a 3-0 series whitewash and effectively buried the Ellis Park hoodoo against the French at the weekend.
It fully underlined the ethos of the team – being more important than the individual player – that Whiteley has so strongly championed since taking over as captain and has worked so hard to instil into the very core of his resurgent side.
That Eben Etzebeth was able to slot in to do the skipper’s job and bring home a historic victory is eloquent testimony to how well playing for one another, rather than as individuals, is working.
This team ethic has been at the heart of a remarkable renaissance, which has been built on the ruins of a disastrous 2016 campaign that yielded only four wins in a dozen Test matches and included the signal low points of a first loss to Ireland in South Africa and a defeat by Italy on tour.
To single out Whiteley as the sole architect of this revival is unfair to the man and to the team. But having him has certainly helped.