Despite finishing on the losing side in his Test debut against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, Wales back-row Tommy Reffell described it as a “special memory” and something which he will always remember.
The 23-year-old Leicester Tigers flanker made his international bow in front of a hostile Loftus Versfeld crowd and although Wales suffered a narrow 32-29 defeat – after full-back Damian Willemse slotted an injury time penalty – Reffell gave a good account of himself.
He won a couple of turnovers, put in a huge defensive shift as he made 15 tackles and although he finished on the losing side, Reffell took the positives from the result.
“It was an incredible experience,” Reffell told the Welsh Rugby Union’s official website. “It was a disappointing result but the whole build up to the game was exciting, running out and singing the anthem for the first time. The atmosphere was incredible.
“Overall, the experience was amazing and something I’ll never forget. The result didn’t go our way but there are plenty of things we can look at going forward.
“It was pretty special, wasn’t it? I haven’t played in many places better than that. That was their first one back in front of a crowd so they came out in force. They were incredible and I could hear them all the way through the game.
“It was a special memory.”
Wales captain Dan Biggar, Alun Wyn Jones, Louis Rees-Zammit and Rhys Carré all received yellow cards during the match and Reffell highlighted the importance of discipline in the international arena.
“I’ve got mixed feelings because it’s a game we could have won, even with the yellow cards,” he added. “It goes to show that discipline is key, especially the way they play with the rolling maul. It’s hard to stop.”
Although there are some similarities to what he has become used to at club level, Reffell admitted that the intensity levels of a Test were of a much higher standard.
“It’s kind of similar in ways but it’s a lot more intense,” he said. “You have to be on your mettle for the whole game and concentration and all that sort of stuff that goes along with it.
“Then the physicality as well. They’ve got some big boys and it’s all about getting your tackle height right and consistently low.”