We did it; we're Americas Rugby Championship winners for the second year in a row, and the first team to do it by winning all five games.
It took a supreme effort from everyone involved. We had 39 players in camp at one time or another, and a whole new coaching staff, but we all came together with a single purpose.
Before we went out of the locker room our preparation as a team was very good -- our mind-set was shaped early in the week. Before we took the field all the guys were ready to go. We were excited, but I talked about how defense and discipline is what would win us a championship -- maybe a bit corny to say, but rings very true. We knew we were going to score tries.
We went out and played in the right areas of the field, stuck to our game plan and got a dominant performance, one full of emotion, but not too much. We wanted to go out with bodies on fire and heads in the fridge -- be passionate but stay disciplined.
In other matches we had won games, but I don't think we felt like we'd put in a really good, full performance. Before Saturday's game, Uruguay had been playing well and had qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup -- and that was impressive -- but we kind of felt like we weren't getting the respect we deserved. So, we went out there with a bit of a chip on our shoulder, but a good attitude, scored six tries in the first half to lead 40-0, and it was fun, it was a lot of fun.
You can't feel like you've got it all sewn up, though. You go ahead by three tries and they could score a soft try and be right back in it. And Uruguay didn't give up, and they scored three tries in the second half -- so did we -- but the key thing was to remain ruthless and to make sure we stayed in control.
It's been a really great ride through a long five weeks, and a lot of credit has to go to the veterans who kept the attitude going when some players had to leave, and we got new guys in. Everyone worked hard. We all bought into what we were trying to do.
Our new head coach, Gary Gold, worked really hard to get to know all the players and understand us, which I think was really important. In front of the team, he's a passionate guy. You can probably see that when we huddle up before a game. He's got a lot of emotion, but at the same time is quiet in person and gives us a lot of good feedback. It has worked.
So now we come home and go back to our clubs, either domestically or overseas, with an eye to our Test matches in June. I think the thing that makes me especially heartened is that we have a strong domestic competition to come back to.
During the game against Uruguay, we were jogging back from scoring a try and we had about six minutes left. I turned to Hanco Germishuys and said "Hanco, in six minutes I'm going to be playing against you [in the Major League Rugby], so let's enjoy this."
And that's true, we're not only arriving back having learned so much and come together as a team -- now we get to play against each other and work to make ourselves better. I can't wait.