PRETORIA – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus apprehension at shouldering full responsibility for the team’s woes after sinking to a second consecutive defeat this time against the Wallabies in Brisbane and the same lack of accountability by his players on the field could lead to more misery for the Springboks in the remaining Rugby Championship Tests.
While Erasmus concedes that the buck ultimately stops with him as the man in charge and also being his own boss as Saru’s director of rugby, Erasmus could not help but look at his players and the many errors they committed in handing Australia a 23-18 win at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
And as much as there is truth in Erasmus’ admission of guilt after the game, it is him and to a lesser extent his players that will need to rectify all that has gone wrong with the Springboks in their last two outings which have led to defeats against Argentina and Australia.
“I’m going to keep on repeating it. I’m the coach. If we give them an over throw five metres from the try-line and give them seven points within the first five minutes that’s 14 points then you are chasing the game and you lose by six. I have to look at myself and take the consequences of that whatever that may be.
If you coach a team and give 14 points away and there were many other things that went wrong but to give 14 points away on a platter you are going to struggle to beat a team. If we don’t fix that we’ll throw away rugby games,” said Erasmus in the aftermath of the defeat.
But the high error rate cannot just be attributed to Erasmus’ overhaul of the team prior to the game and some of them speak to a lack of responsibility particularly by the senior statesmen in the side while at a lesser consideration, the lack of experience within the squad has also played its part according to Erasmus.
Ultimately, though, the Springboks inability to string together a coherent 80 minutes continues to be their Achilles and until such time that they are able to play consistently and not in bits and pieces within a half, there will still be plenty of excuses to be made for the losses that are still to come.
“I thought our mauling went well compared to last weekend. The scrums were good for the first half and then there was vital scrums at certain stages that we lost and lineouts were good at some stages. So it’s a mixed bag of mistakes at different times. Normally we do well in the second half but in this game we were awful in the second half and wonderful in the first half,” Erasmus said.
“We can use excuses and say there is young guys on the field and we are trying a few combinations but it is a Springbok Test match. Yes I can say it is a lack of experience, it is Cheslin’s first game and Mapimpi and Aphiwe are finding their feet but at the end of the day that doesn’t count. We are picking this side to beat the opposition and to come and win Test matches. Whatever the consequences may be, I must take it.”
The Wallabies win this encounter 23-18 against the Springboks at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. pic.twitter.com/gUv7bbyTkJ— South African Rugby (@Springboks) September 8, 2018
Unfortunately for Erasmus the road ahead isn’t easier, instead the Springboks look to be on a collision course with a catastrophic disaster as the All Blacks lie in wait in Wellington this week.
Erasmus is hopeful but hope won’t be enough for the Springboks and they will need to be realistic about what it is that needs to be rectified if they are to avert another nightmare in New Zealand.
“The toughness is not so much in the daunting task of the All Blacks, it is exciting and nice. It was an exciting week for us despite the loss to Argentina, we wanted to come here and beat the Wallabies.
I really thought, until the last minute, we could really win the game.
It is much more pressure, we are playing the best team in the world and we’ve just had two losses in a row so the pressure is on us and let’s see how we can bounce back,” said Erasmus.@Vata_Ngobeni