Rassie's winning recipe
SPOTLIGHT: Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s Director of Rugby, believes that the Springboks now have the blueprint to retain their No.1 ranking.
The innovative official, speaking on the new SA Rugby podcast, is adamant that the mistakes of the past should not be repeated.
That is why kicking on from last year’s World Cup victory is vital.
He said – unlike the 1995 and 2007 World Cup wins – this time the ‘succession plan’ is in place.
Erasmus has no doubt that the scrapping of the 30-cap eligibility rule for overseas players was on of the keys to the Boks’ successful World Cup campaign in Japan.
The controversial decision was criticised in some quarters, but it bore fruit at the tournament – despite the first-round loss to New Zealand.
“I have no doubt if we didn’t take away the 30-cap rule, we wouldn’t have won the World Cup,” Erasmus told De Jongh Borchardt, a member of SA Rugby’s media department.
“I have no doubt we wouldn’t have been able to keep the players in South African as we just don’t have the money to.
“It is reality, and the moment you accept reality and we work with this and we find creative ways around that.
“As you know, we sent the letters to all the clubs throughout the world, saying that we are going to enforce Regulation 9. But the problem with that was when you get a player who is injured or unfit or doesn’t know the game plan.”
Erasmus is now using Dublin-based Bok assistant coach Felix Jones to keep the numerous European-based Boks up speed with developments inside the camp.
“Felix actually went to all the overseas players who were in the reckoning and he had alignment camps with them,” he said of Jones’ contribution – before the current COVID-19-enforced lockdown grounded all teams and unions.
“He took Handre Pollard and his wife out for dinner, brought him up to speed on what our plan is this year, where we’re going to train, how we’re going to play.
“There will be no surprises when those guys return to us. That’s the big role Felix plays for us.”
He also reiterated the importance of building on the solid foundation laid with last year’s win over England in the World Cup Final in Yokohama.
“I want to ensure it is not just [temporary] happiness,”he said of the elation of claiming the Webb Ellis Cup.
“If we take our foot off the pedal and we slip up, our winning record slides and we don’t do well in terms of transformation, I feel we will be failures again – just as we were after 1995 and 2007.
“I feel the pressure and I want to ensure we don’t look back and say: ‘We dropped the ball in 2020.’
“From our [the Springbok management’s] side, we are really working so hard, and I want to guarantee our supporters, as soon as the Springboks are back on the field, we will make you proud, like we did last year,” added Erasmus.
“As we said last year, if we work hard and play well, and our fans keep on supporting us and the media reports well, we really are stronger together. And nothing should change because of this virus.”
Felix Jones sent us a little video update from Dublin, where the Bok Assistant Coach is currently spending time with his family in lockdown. #StrongerTogether #FlattenTheCurve pic.twitter.com/2x1zGWBMLd
— Springboks (@Springboks) April 14, 2020
Erasmus said the buck will continue to stop with him, despite the appointment of a Jacques Nienaber as the new coach.
The 47-year-old maintains he will still have major input and preserving the winning formula is as much his responsibility.
“He [Nienaber] reports to me and if it doesn’t go well on the field I should be the guy who also takes the blame, because I was one of the big drivers to get him there,” Erasmus said.
Erasmus added that Nienaber, with his knowledge of the team and each individual player, stood out as the best candidate to lead the side when he was appointed in January.
“I have got all the confidence that he has the knowledge, the experience and the respect of the players.”
He is also confident the Boks will play tests in 2020, even though their July fixtures against Scotland and Georgia are unlikely to go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rugby Championship and November International series also under threat.
“We are working so hard, especially with the teams that we know are going to play this year, and that will definitely be the Springboks.
“We are not sure what is going to happen with Super Rugby and the Springboks might not play all their test matches, but they will play.”
Nienaber’s first matches in charge were scheduled to be the two tests against Scotland and one against Georgia at home in July.
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) March 24, 2020