Home RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 Rassie primes SA for moment of truth

Rassie primes SA for moment of truth

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Brenden Nel

Often when we listen to a coach talking, we’re so obsessed with the here and now, the current story or latest trend, that we miss the subtle nuances that are thrown our way in laying the foundation for a later, bigger and much more significant story.

So it is with a smirk that I wonder, after listening to Rassie Erasmus for the past three weeks, if he is readying Bok fans for a mighty fall.

Okay, that may be a tad dramatic. But anyone who has been listening to Erasmus will have noticed him peppering his prose with phrases such as “we must be brave” and “we will lose games along the way, but as long as we are growing.”

It’s understandable, in a high-pressure job like coaching the Springboks, that Erasmus will provide caveats to stop the euphoria from getting out of hand. But this week he took it a step further, reminding those in Cape Town that the Boks are “miles behind” the All Blacks at the moment.

That’s hardly the type of comment the average Springbok fan, fresh from a 2-0 drubbing of Eddie Jones’ England, expects to hear. It’s clear that Erasmus is slowly laying the groundwork for the possibility that things will go horribly wrong in the Rugby Championship.

In his defence, the euphoria is sometimes a bit over the top and there is so much positive sentiment in Bok rugby at the moment after the appointment of Siya Kolisi as captain, the removal of the transformation headache that has bogged down so many of his predecessors and, importantly, some great rugby being played on the field.

But there is also a fine line between enthusiasm and support, and blind loyalty. The current crop of Springboks have a lot to work on still, even though they have hauled themselves out of the ditch twice to roar back and score impressive victories.

The England series is won, and now the challenges take a step up. A massive step up.

While we can scoff about Wales’ 2-0 series-win in Argentina, Bok teams have struggled against the Pumas in recent times. Touring Australia has always been our Achilles heel, losing or drawing games that the Boks clearly should have won. And, on September 17, the Boks’ face their moment of truth.

All the sentiment and all the results will, in the eyes of Springbok supporters, be put into context by what happens during 80 minutes of rugby at the Cake Tin in Wellington, New Zealand.

Remember the similar desperation for good news in 2017 after Allister Coetzee’s side had put 35 on France in each of three consecutive wins? There was talk of a “new team culture”, a great, positive outlook, and everything looked dandy.

The team was unbeaten until they stepped onto the pitch in Christchurch on September 16 last year, and then the wheels came off spectacularly as the Boks suffered a record 57-0 loss.

As Mike Tyson famously said: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Allister Coetzee’s tenure fell apart there and he will forever be remembered for the Boks’ biggest loss, just as Heyneke Meyer will always be remembered for the World Cup defeat against Japan. It is harsh, but that is sport.

There is every reason to celebrate the Boks’ success against England, a side that boasted they were coming to South Africa to win 3-0. But it must be seen for what it is – a step in the right direction, but not conclusive evidence of a Bok resurrection.

The main difference with the class of 2018 is that they have a fighting spirit we haven’t seen in a long time. Like a boxer, they’ve stumbled backwards after being hit with a flurry of combinations, but they’ve come back to record two big knockout wins.

Rassie will continue to temper the expectations, knowing that it can all come apart during one week in New Zealand. He will be optimistic about the return of experienced players such as Warren Whiteley, Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx and Coenie Oosthuizen lifting the Boks in September.

And he will be hoping the fighting spirit and belief grows into something that translates into a sustainable upward curve that takes the Boks through to the World Cup.

The Boks are making all the right moves at the moment, but Erasmus is issuing subtle warnings because he knows that a perfect start, and a nation’s belief, can be knocked out by one big punch to the face.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. What would be a successful campaign for Rassie this RC? IMO 50% would be a success under current process.
    Will we have Faf? Will we have Willie?
    Vermeulen is out!

  2. For me success would be to win at least all our home games and Pumas in Arg.

    Then we can start fine tuning on how to win away from home on EOYT, and with some good fortune and no injuries be sufficiently polished to get into playoffs at World Cup, where it is any man’s game on the day.

    I do however think (and personally have thought this for years) that it would be fantastic to pool our coaching resources and have a team of top coaches together as Jake has suggested, at least for the World Cup tournament.

  3. Bok supporters already setting themselves up for bitter disappointment! We beat a 2nd string Pom side 2-1! Poms who lost to Scotland and France! Oz looked very good v Ireland, NZ are NZ, Argentina we should beat but not a given in Argentina. 3/6?
    Then comes the Nov Tour with England at home back to full strength, then the French who will probably get the better calls from the referees this time around, then Scotland (and we know how that went last time) then Wales we can’t beat outside of RWC… 2/4?
    Rassie will probably stay at 50% ratio by the end of the year (which is an improvement) – anything more than that is a positive step forward IMO.

  4. @JT: not to sound like a doomsdayer, but we’d do really well to get to 50%. I don’t think we’ll win one against the AB’s, Aus and Arg we should win the home games, away games I’m just not sure. I hope Rassie surprises and we win more than 50%, but 50% will be really good at this point.

  5. I am surprised nobody is bringing up that AC beat Ireland 2-1 in his first year in a similar situation (albeit he inherited) a more settled side with a 67% win ratio.

    Personally after watching how some of the young new faces in the Aus side played the Boks might be lucky to win their home game. But I would definitely like to see them beat Argentina home and away. So too Scotland and Wales.

  6. @JT:

    This is ridiculous.
    Why would 50% be good for Rassie if it’s never been good before? They could have just kept AC if that was okay.

    Or is it truely the case that Rassie has everyone believing he is a great coach, even though he has never achieved anything great as a coach?

  7. He’ll be judged on results same as every other Bok coach. But win against England bearing in mind injuries, transformation and brand new team – v v good start. Most importantly for me, he’s actually trying new things, which suggests a total different approach.

  8. @cab:

    Oh the lowering of the barometer of expectations in current day South Africa. It’s become endemic.

    Jake White too inherited the worst Bok side of the then era, totally rejigged the side in a few weeks and whipped Ireland 3-0 and took the Tri-nations.

    Coetzee was ‘trying new stuff’ at this stage of his career and had a 66% win ratio.

  9. @Timeo: with current personel, Rassie’s experimentation, the opposition we will face up to end of year 50% will be par = good IMO.
    50% = beating Argentina twice, Aus at home, Scotland and France.
    60% = beating Wales in Cardiff – beating Argentina twice, Aus at home, Scotland and France.
    70% = beating England in Twikkers and Wales in Cardiff – 4/4 in EOY Tour…
    etc.
    A 4/4 in NH, 3/6 in RC = 70% That is not good that is effing brilliant!

  10. @Timeo: I agree with you mate! There is a big difference between “success benchmark” and “expectation”. The benchmark should be to beat everybody at this stage, apart from the ABs – the reality is that we will struggle, but that does not change the benchmark!!
    Arg was beaten by Scotland QUITE EASILY, in Argentina – so no excuse for us to lose there. Oz are terrible and only survive from their referee barrage – we should f them at home and also beat them cleverly in Australia. Problem is that all of them have now seen how crap Aphiwe is on defence, and the ABs will brutally exploit that.

  11. @JT Yip – last beaten us in 2010 – that’s a loooong time ago (unless my stats ate wrong?). And now coached by Townsend.

  12. @Bekke:
    true, we have not played them since the 2015 WC, right? They have been good at home, taking NZ all the way, beating Aus and Eng

  13. Bryce – thought JW a pretty good coach but turns out a bit of a twat in coaching BiL and slot of stuff subsequent so I got no time. Also he didn’t attack the fking gainline. I hate coaches like that, total hater. That’s th name of the game for me, not defence – what is that lame duck shit. Don’t get me wrong I love it when kitshoff or Ossie obliterates an engelse, but defensive systems and suck kak who cares. Let me see willemse and gitaeu and sunking and carel dup opening up these supposed impregnable defendes – that’s genuis. Fortune always favours the brace and that is what the kiwis win. Rugby as it should be played. Scoring tries not fucking composure and kak.

  14. @JT:

    If we discount the DC game, the Boks needs to win another 6 games to break 60% (8/13).
    Rassie must engineer a 4th win in the RC or 3rd in Nov. 60% is really the bare minimum acceptable for any Bok coach.

  15. @Timeo:

    I was under the impression that there was a KPI set a few points higher than that… will have a look-see… however it’s becoming obvious that from the media scribes that meeting the quota KPI’s is more important than the win ratio.

  16. @cab:

    Hahaha Cabbo mate you’re a dreamer…

    The All Blacks are the best in the world because they have the best defensive/offensive structures and tactical kicking platforms right across the paddock ‘first’ before straight backline play even comes into the equation.

    The Irish under Schmidt have spent a considerable amount of time becoming second only to the All Blacks if not equal with their almost peerless defensive/offensives structures and tactical kicking platforms right across the paddock ‘first’ before straight backline play even comes into the equation.

    You are kidding yourself JW is a coach limited when it comes to try-scoring. The man is a genius with all of the above platforms before straight backline play even comes into the equation. And ‘then’ you only have to look at the master selector at play choosing 9/10 and 12/13 combo’s that are world class that can gel with world class 11/14/15 axis.

    JW inherited a team from Straueli and particularly Viljoen that had all but forgotten the importance of focusing on the above-mentioned first and started the rot with all the ‘razzle-dazzle-headsup’ swill terms I so despise yet many particularly from WP still yearn for an speak of every week ignoring all else.

    Who could forget the first Irish series in JW’s tenure, one which many pundits were most certainly not positive about. Result? A three series drubbing with platforms dominating and the backs running riots with well constructed tries not to mention 15 man counter-attacks from one side of the field to the other.

    This did not stop there against better opposition and they continue where they left off narrowly losing to New Zealand despite out-scoring them 3 tries to 1. And then came the absolute drubbing of the All Blacks with Marius Joubert becoming the first man to ever score a hat-trick against the men in Black. They took the title having topped the try-scoring table with both their ‘centres’ Marius and Jean DV the leading try-scorers.

    It is no fluke JW that in one month, after inheriting yet another side on the slide that had forgotten said ‘platforms’ first before anything else, assembled a rag-tag bunch of mercenaries, club players, and league players along with the skeleton crew remaining and instantly turned the no-name likes of Nic White, Jesse Mogg, Tevita Kuridrani, Joe Tomane, Henry Speight into stars that would go on to represent their country at the highest level. The Brumbies of 2012 could score tries from every part of the paddock whether set-moves, broken play or counter-attacks… their platforms first… had been brought up to JW speed.

    I won’t even bore you with the exact same blue-print that took similarly took Montpellier from zero’s to hero’s in a single season, second only to the eventual winners for tries scored.

    The fact remains the Boks of the past season had forgotten their ‘ fucking composure and kak’ (as you so eloquently put it) with all the talk of ‘headsup attacking play-whats-in-front-of-you’ rugby… and the results are there for all to see. No Bok in the history of the game has had that many tries scored against them, whilst still not being able to show anything close to the fabled ‘razzle-dazzle’ and they rightfully ended up with their worst world ranking in history.

    The very first thing Jones said after the first defeat was that Rassie had started to restore said platforms and Bok strengths first and foremost. And that is why they managed to just steal the series. It most certainly was not because of the mostly opportunistic individual tries which were not all from backs.

    But I digress… off to walk the American Staffordshires before they start gnawing on my leg.

  17. @bryce_in_oz:
    Well put – without the base structures and tactical kicking the rest falls apart – add to that basic skills to execute structures, kicking etc…
    Our Defensive structure not there yet and I fear that the Aussies and AB’s will expose this – but Rassie has a few more weeks to work that out.
    Jantjies has shown again he does not have the skills (handling/decision making/kicking) to be a quality TEST flyhalf. Only Pollard ticks these boxes at the moment. Lambie and Pollard are the 2 I would take to the WC – the 3rd is a worry. any suggestions? Morne? RdP?
    Our next position that lacks depth is at 9 – after Faf there is very little that fills me with confidence. I would call in Rory Kockott who has had a blinder this season. even Ruan Pienaar.
    These 2 positions control the game and you need experienced, decision makers come RWC time.

  18. @bryce_in_oz:

    I cannot agree more with you.

    Rassie however has far less quality to work with than Jake had.
    @JT:

    Kockot has been capped by France already. Other than Pollard we have no other test quality depth. Same with Faf de Klerk and Willie.

  19. @Welshbok die Brandwag:

    ah f..k forgot about that. How many Saffas will be playing at the RWC? Players will be playing for Japan, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, USA? and maybe even NZ if that Hurricanes frontrower gets in…

  20. New guy that runs SA stepped in it BIG TIME by calling Rassie O’Rasmus prior to SA clean sheeting England ( they didn’t ).
    Tying himself to SA rugby achievements ( or lack thereof ) is beyond tacky for a national leader who should be too busy to congratulate ANYBODY unless a WC trophy is awarded let alone some goofy test series from an England team that everyone in England wants to PUKE over.
    WTF?
    SA president CORRECT response from the dweebs on his staff that wanted him to comment about beating England:
    https://www.thesun.co.uk/world-cup-2018/6633298/diego-maradona-finger-swear-argentina-world-cup-nigeria/
    But then maybe he just doesn’t possess the ” Hand of God ” – no worries, just Disapointnggggggggggggggggggg.
    & So it goes.

  21. @JT: In the last RWC Boere even played for Georgia and Romania…

    Almost every nation has had or has a white South African playing for them…

  22. Saying what everyone is thinking RIGHT NOW:
    The SunKing, by not doing what BDP & Frank Steyn are doing with th Tri-Nations / aka NOT being involved is akin to Jesus of Nazareth washing the feet of tax collectors etc ( surely Aldo knows the apt description of those Jesus washed feet of – you get the point – whatever).
    Simply put – ALL the former Deniers ( perhaps even LOSER Platitude specialist Gavin Rich ) are now on board. Pssst Willie – now go for the $ !
    But I’m a mere mortal talking. I can’t convince Willie to be selfish & he could even go half-way were he to read the memoirs of Erich von Manstein – but who is gonna read with youtube LOL.
    The SunKing knows only to shine. So be it. I’ll watch.

  23. I will watch & I will ADORE.
    Cézanne on the rugby pitch. He belongs in a gallery.

  24. @Aldo:
    Aldo – you know technically whos feet he washed? Mighta been hookers IDK.
    If ADD during Sunday school is a crime –
    I’m serving forever lol.

  25. Rugby Championships gonna be v interesting.

    Dunno who is being played at hooker but if erasmus got a full compliment – kak task spat.

    The big one is Yster. If he’s fit, it all good.

  26. @Americano:

    ‘Jesus of Nazareth washing the feet of tax collectors’

    Or the pope washing the feet of a Muslim refugee that turned out to be a Jihadi country-shopper.

    @cab:

    Marx Bongi… what you questioning… other than it should be Marx Akker…

    Your Yster is out again… Botha/PSDT with Snyman/Mostert on the bench…

  27. @DavidS:
    You have Dawie all wrong. He sets the zeitgeist.
    Has been this site’s resident proto-nazi, long before hastag was invented or alt-right was a thing.

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