England remain a very good side, despite losing in South Africa. It was little over a year ago that England had equalled the All Blacks’s 18-Test unbeaten run and it was less than a year ago that this England side had lost just once in 23 Tests under Eddie Jones.
Don’t dismiss the quality of the Springboks’ series win as the consequence of England being easy beats. Also, don’t be too quick to forget that 18 months ago the Springboks were losing to the likes of Italy. Erasmus, is the best thing that could have happened to Springbok and South African rugby because his heart and passion for the Springboks is matched by his rugby acumen and his understanding and acceptance of what it means to make a contribution to a democratic South Africa.
Typically, there have been way too many naysayers in South Africa who fail to get the significance of the past month when it comes to the well-being of the Springboks. Erasmus has given life to what was an endangered species at the end of last year.
I’ve been reporting on the Springboks since the team’s international return from sporting isolation in 1992. I’ve been part of the Springbok management team and I was blessed to be among the storytellers of the 1995 and 2007 World Cup-winning campaigns.
I’ve known joy as a reporter of the Springboks, as a supporter and as a member of the squad. I’ve also experienced the lowest points in the history of the Springboks.
Nothing, even the two World Cup successes, has compared with the last fortnight. It’s been the most joyous of occasions and also the most significant supersize steps taken in Springbok rugby’s evolution from a team that identifies with an élite minority to a team that is reflective of everyone in South Africa.
Erasmus is the general who turned the almost stagnant evolution into the most dramatic and telling of revolutions. He made a statement that came as much from the heart as it did from the head.
He picked a squad he always felt would be transformed and successful. He never doubted he had the players to beat England. He invested in youngsters and was strategic in identifying a handful of foreign-based experienced Springboks.
Erasmus only spoke of the quality of South African players in this country and abroad. He also believed in the franchise coaches and invested in them. He knew how he wanted to play and he knew which players and coaches could turn his vision into a winning series result.
Erasmus has never professed to be the Messiah of Springbok rugby, but he most certainly is leading the revolution.@mark_keohane
Independent on Saturday