Rassie’s calculated start has been vindicated
I’m not going to say I told you so, but Erasmus’ remarkable record in 2019 speaks for itself.
Jaco van der Merwe.
Jaco van der Merwe.
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At the end of last year on this very same page, I annoyed a reader by saying Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’ 50% winning record after his first season in charge should be seen as our rugby cup being half-full and not half-empty.
This notion was derided on the letters page because 50% isn’t a great pass-rate.
That was never in doubt.
It was a mere case of me stressing that Erasmus had done much more good than bad in a short space of time despite his record card showing seven wins and seven losses even though it didn’t seem like a massive improvement on predecessor Allister Coetzee’s woeful one on paper.
I’m not going to say I told you so, as Erasmus’ remarkable record in 2019 speaks for itself.
It reads 11 Tests, nine wins, one draw and one loss and it includes a Rugby Championship title for the first time in 10 long years and at least a World Cup silver medal, a better colour than bronze for the first time in 12 years.
To put that into context, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who’s been in the hot seat for eight years in charge of a seemingly unstoppable side, might only have a World Cup bronze medal to show after their season comes to an end against Wales on Friday.
And spare a thought for Warren Gatland, who has been coaching Wales for 12 years and will in all likelihood have to make the journey back from Japan empty-handed.
I remember renowned sports scientist Tim Noakes saying once that the Boks’ World Cup triumph in 2007 came at the hefty price of something like 15 defeats.
Noakes said that in planning towards their World Cup goal, coach Jake White had to make sacrifices in team selections over a period of time.
Can anyone remember the Boks fielding their best team in the two home Tri-Nations Tests against the Wallabies and the All Blacks in 2007?
White took the controversial decision to send a weakened or “B” team to Australasia to preserve his top players.
It went something like this: The Kiwis and Aussies cried foul about the “B” team before beating them, the Wallabies
and All Blacks were dumped out of the World Cup at the quarterfinal stage and the Boks won the title.
In other words, those two away matches were just two in the uncomfortably large tally in White’s juggling act towards his main goal.
Erasmus was kind of doomed straight out the blocks last year when he had to put out a team on the other side of the Atlantic against Wales in Washington before returning to face off against England in the first of three matches the next week in Johannesburg.
He not only opted to send his “B” team to Washington, but also rang the changes for the third Test against England after securing the series.
Erasmus also dished out plenty of opportunities on the year-end tour last year which yielded two wins from four outings and started the Rugby Championship campaign with his “B” team against the Wallabies this year, a match the
Boks actually ran out comfortable winners.
And the ultimate goal of winning the World Cup is still intact despite being the underdogs on Saturday.
If White had to sacrifice 15 Tests to win the World Cup, Erasmus’ seven defeats from last season is in actual fact a bargain.
Ag what the hell … I told you so.
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