Did the victory over the All Blacks in Wellington “engender false hope” for the Springboks? That was one of the questions posed by former centre and assistant coach Brendan Venter on Thursday.
In his column on the New Zealand rugby website stuff.co.nz, Venter evaluated Rassie Erasmus’ first year in charge of the Boks, and he felt that the team were “worse off” in 2018 than they were in 2017 under Allister Coetzee.
Venter, who was part of Coetzee’s team management and was responsible for defence, still noted that the Boks were the “dark horses” for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
But the ex-midfielder said that “the cracks were painted over” by the epic 36-34 triumph over the All Blacks in Wellington.
He added that Erasmus’ results and transformation record were worse than that of Coetzee, who came in for fierce criticism after the 57-0 disaster against the Kiwis that ultimately cost him his job.
“Erasmus lost seven matches this year, and last year, Coetzee only lost four. The Boks under Erasmus scored 37 tries and conceded 38, while Coetzee’s side scored 39 tries and conceded 32,” Venter wrote.
“Erasmus guaranteed a 45 percent transformation rate when he set off, but only achieved 38 percent, which is worse than Coetzee, who posted 40 percent.
“From a purely numbers point of view, it’s undeniable that South Africa failed to make progress under Erasmus this season. As a matter of fact, they were worse off this year.
“However, because they beat the All Blacks away from home, the cracks were painted over. Statistically speaking, Erasmus performed substantially worse in his first season than Coetzee did in his second season.”
But having said that, Venter doesn’t think Erasmus should be fired just 10 months out from the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“I’m not suggesting that Erasmus should go. I’m of the view that it’s even more reason to support Erasmus because if you look at the way Coetzee grew in his second year, Erasmus should grow in exactly the same way,” he said.
“If the administrators don’t miss a trick, then it will give us a return on patience after four years, which we are hoping for in South Africa rugby.
“Whatever we do, Erasmus must stay on for at least three years and actively manage South Africa to allow for an upward trajectory.”