Australian fans are in agreement - the best thing about the third match of the Bledisloe Cup was national anthem singer David Nduwimana.
While Saturday was a horrific night to forget for the Wallabies, who suffered their worst loss to the All-Blacks in 117 years and once again saw the Bledisloe Cup slip away, it was a moment of triumph for Nduwimana.
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His performance of Advance Australia Fair prior to kickoff earned universal acclaim, with many looking to learn more about the refugee from Burundi who stepped up to the microphone on Saturday evening.
Nduwimana arrived in Australia after fleeing the African nation of Burundi in 2013, fearing for his life amid violent political turmoil in the nation of 11 million residents.
An economist and musician, Nduwimana knew nobody in Australia upon his arrival - but a chance meeting with Rob Clarke in 2016, now the interim executive chairman at Rugby Australia, at a Manly church ultimately led him to the microphone at ANZ Stadium.
Missing his family and fearing he would not be allowed to stay in Australia, the talented musician ended up moving in with Clarke and his family for a year.
Nduwimana was eventually granted permanent residency, and said he owed much of what he has to the Rugby Australia stalwart.
“Rob was there through the ups and downs,” Nduwimana told the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday.
“He’s just holding you, giving hugs, giving some love. He saw me cry many times. He saw me when I couldn’t do anything because you feel like you’re in limbo and don’t know what’s happening. You miss your family and friends and people around you.”
All of that led him to deliver what fans considered to be one of the most stirring renditions of the Australian national anthem fans had heard in some time, with plenty flocking to social media to sing his praises.
— Anne O'Keeffe (@Anne_OKeeffe) October 31, 2020
— Bernard Ndong (@BernardNdong) October 31, 2020
The Burundian refugee who just sang the Australian national anthem. @irakoze94 must be proud.
— Tungsten™ (@kollonabiswa) October 31, 2020
We win the anthem go Burundi 🇦🇺 🏉 give him a passport!
— Sarah Ferguson (@FergusonNews) October 31, 2020
Took an African to correctly sing the Australian National Anthem (at the rugby). Fantastic.
— Dr. Greg Smith, PhD 🇦🇺🏴🇮🇪🏴🇩🇪 (@pr_doctor) October 31, 2020
Wallabies thrashed by clinical All-Blacks
Defiant Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is refusing to blame inexperience for Australia's heaviest defeat to the All Blacks in 117 years.
The Wallabies surrendered the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th straight year with a humiliating 43-5 loss at ANZ Stadium, then had to watch the jubilant New Zealanders rejoice after securing trans-Tasman bragging rights on Australian soil for the first time since 2009.
"We're hurting a lot from that," said Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.
Debutant playmaker Noah Lolesio bagged Australia's only try but had an otherwise forgettable first game in the gold jumper, while three-Test winger Filipo Daugunu also underwhelmed as the Wallabies' young guns performed more like boys against men.
"They were top notch and we were a long way off it tonight and that was reflected in the score," Rennie said.
"There was certainly a gulf between the two performances.
"As we talked about the last time we played the All Blacks, you can't turn the ball over as often as we do. It puts a lot of pressure on us defensively."
Rennie, though, said it would be unfair to pin the blame on Lolesio - or any of Australia's other next-gen stars - for the humbling, record-breaking loss.
"We're not going to use that as an excuse. We prepared well," he said before explaining why Lolesio was subbed off in the 64th minute after a particularly poor kicking game in Sydney's big wet.
"He'll be happy to get one under his belt. He sort of was cramping. That's the reason we took him off with about 20 to go.
"He didn't get a hell of a lot of front-foot ball, did he? So he'll learn a lot from that."
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