PRETORIA – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus believes his team can win the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan after their dramatic 32-30 loss to New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The All Blacks came from 30-13 down to pip the Springboks in the final round of the Rugby Championship, reversing a stunning two-point loss in Wellington last month.
A 79th-minute Ardie Savea try brought the teams level, and Richie Mo’unga kicked a simple conversion to win the match.
“I really think we have a chance of winning the World Cup. I learnt a lot, not just about the players, but about myself as a coach,” said Erasmus.
“I have got to be so careful (about) saying positive things after a loss in South Africa. I don’t want to sound positive after a loss. I just really think the rivalry is back.
“When New Zealand and South Africa are on the field, you are not sure who is winning. That makes us proud until the last minute today, three weeks ago and at Newlands last year.
“I think there (has not been more than) two points (between the teams) in the last three games. We meet once more before we play each other in the World Cup.
“I really think it was one of our best tactical performances in a while.”
New Zealand clinched a sixth Rugby Championship title last weekend with a win over Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Despite the loss, South Africa finished second, and Erasmus praised New Zealand’s resilience.
“(It is amazing) the way the All Blacks come back – after losing to Ireland in Chicago, they smashed them in Dublin one week later,” he said.
“We spoke about all the times they get back into the game and how we have to match them physically.
“I really thought we handled them well tactically and physically for 72 minutes.
“I can talk about all the things we did wrong in the last 10 minutes, but they did a hell of a lot of things right for the last 10.
“We will learn from what we did against the world’s best team.”
Australia beat Argentina 45-34 in Salta later on Saturday to claim third place.
The next Springbok Test is against England at Twickenham in London on November 3.