With just 20 minutes played, the 25-year-old No8 was hit by another substantial injury which is expected to keep him out of action until the New Year.
As if to rub salt into the wounds of a young player already having suffered more setbacks than professionals with twice his amount of experience, the injury occurred during his first ever start in a senior Welsh jersey. The fact that injuries had forced Delve to wait five years since his uncapped debut against the Barbarians to achieve that landmark made his misfortune even more galling.
"The mental side of it was really tough in South Africa because I'd worked so hard, not only to get fit last year, but also to get the opportunity to get my first start and for that to be cut short after 20 minutes was devastating at the time," says Delve.
"But I've got to get over it and, luckily enough, it's one of those injuries that I can recover from. There have been some bad injuries in rugby in recent times and I can just be grateful that it's one I've been through before and one I can come back from a better player.
"I'm not going to reset my ambitions. The time that I do that will be the time that I say, 'right, that's it, that's game over'. I'm hungry for more caps and hungry for the fact that there's a British Lions tour at the end of the year.
"I can come back from this better and I can still achieve everything I want to."
That remarkably positive attitude is proving a vital aspect of Delve's recovery, which according to the man himself, is going according to plan.
"It's feeling great, although it's slow at the moment.
"The surgery is actually going to make it a lot more solid in the long run so it's a bit more complicated in the beginning but we're still looking at a six-month rehab. I've just got to take it easy at the beginning and I can work on from there.
"I'm looking to be off the crutches this week which will be a huge relief. You start to feel a bit more human when you can walk properly. It's just a case of taking it slowly at the beginning so that I've got a good base that I can push on from.
"I guess (I'll start running) around the three-month mark, so that will take me into mid-September. If I'm running by then, it gives me a good three months to build my speed, build up the power in my legs and, hopefully, be back around the New Year."
Although a proposed January return would leave him with only a few months to push his claims for the Lions tour to South Africa, Delve is taking comfort from the speed at which his fortunes turned around following recovery from his previous knee operation.
Having begun his career at Gloucester last season with a ruptured ACL, Delve powered his way back to fitness and form in time to be a part of an historic Welsh Grand Slam triumph in February and March.
"Within a year of me doing my knee, it was pretty much the France game and I was part of a Grand Slam-winning team. I know I can make that turnaround in a year.
"It makes it a lot more difficult than if I'd been fit going into this season but it's an ambition I've always had to play for the Lions. First things first, I've got to get fit, start playing well and, hopefully, go from there.
"If I'm lucky enough, I could have two games against Ian McGeechan's Wasps team this year so it's a chance for me to put myself in the window with some big performances for Gloucester."
Producing those big performances for Gloucester is definitely Delve's primary aim, particularly as he feels he owes something to a club who have stuck by him despite seeing him spend most of his Cherry and Whites career on the sidelines.
"The club have been fantastic. It's the second time I've come back to Gloucester with a big knee injury. I joined the club last year injured and that was hugely frustrating so I was really looking forward to having a good pre-season and improving on where I was at the end of last year.
"Seeing the guys train and get ready for the new season obviously makes it pretty difficult but it's a huge motivation to get back on my feet as soon as I can and get stuck in. In some ways it's better to miss the start of the season rather than the business end when we're challenging for cups and the league, hopefully.
"I'm so desperate now to get fit, get firing and really show my worth to the club and make sure we end this year with a lot of silverware."
Gloucester finished last season in disappointing fashion as they crashed out at the semi-final stages of the Guinness Premiership despite finishing top of the league once again. However, for Delve, the run-in to the end of the campaign brought all-important game time and a burst of consistently impressive form, although he insists there is far more still to come.
"Last year was a good season for me in terms of playing and getting back out on the park but I've had a look at a few of the games and I've seen where my weaknesses were. I've got a few months now to work on all of them and make sure I'm a better a player.
"The weaknesses were mainly my game management. I'd spent so much time either injured or coming off the bench, it was a case of, when I was finding my feet, literally just going through the games.
"With that amount of experience behind me from last season, I know I can bring a little bit of my old self back in and be a bit more aggressive around the contact area and really start stamping myself on games."
If Delve can continue to progress at club level when he makes what will be a long-awaited return, his chances of making the Lions squad may well be helped by another historic year with a Welsh side looking to build on last season's unexpected success.
"With Warren (Gatland), Shaun (Edwards), Rob (Howley) and Robyn (McBryde) at the helm, we're going places.
"We've got one of the most talented squads we've had for a long time, and I mean squad in the sense that before there was no depth to a Welsh team whereas we're challenging each other now.
"Things haven't come easy to me but it means I don't take anything for granted and I know that I'm privileged to have had the opportunity to be a part of winning a Grand Slam. I've gone down in history with a very good Welsh team. Things are looking great and, obviously, it's a huge spur to get back involved with that and win more things.
"All the negative times make all the achievements sweeter. At least one day I'll be able to look at my career and say I've earned everything I've had and it didn't come easy. I wouldn't mind a few things coming a bit easier than they have but you've got to take the cards you're dealt.
"In many ways, I had a really good season, really enjoyed it and, in perspective, things could be much worse. That's not to say it doesn't hurt at the moment, but I'll get through it and I'll come back a better player and a stronger person."