What the Irish newspapers are saying about the Test against the Springboks and the 2023 World Cup bid.
On Monday, SA Rugby confirmed that Johann van Graan will be leaving the Bok management in two weeks’ time to to take up the head coach job at Munster.
On the same day, Allister Coetzee told reporters in Dublin that the outgoing Munster boss Rassie Erasmus – who has been appointed South Africa’s new director of rugby – won’t meet with the South African coaching team and share his insights on the local game while the Boks are based in Ireland.
Needless to say, a few Irish eyebrows have been raised over the past day or so. The locals have a lot of respect for Erasmus and what he achieved at Munster, and the Boks – who have a 43% win record under Coetzee – clearly need all the help they can get.
‘Last month he insisted he would be jetting back to South Africa and not aiding the Boks in their preparation for this game, but given his intimate knowledge of the Irish game it would seem an opportunity missed,’ writes Ruaidhri O’Connor in the Irish Independent.
‘Coetzee’s focus is very much on the task at hand, but he’ll be fully aware of the bigger picture too and the shadow of Erasmus looming large over the whole of November.
‘Intriguingly, these two sides are on course for a first World Cup meeting in the 2019 quarter-finals if things go to form. Coetzee’s mission is to still be in charge when that tournament rolls around.’
Gerry Thornley of the Irish Times appears similarly confused about the lack of communication between Coetzee and Erasmus.
‘In the somewhat typically unpredictable nature of Springbok rugby, it remains to be seen how the impending arrival of Rassie Erasmus as the new South African director of rugby will affect Coetzee’s position. The two men have yet to meet, and Coetzee said they will not be doing so on this tour.’
Coetzee described Ireland as ‘the All Blacks of Europe’. In an article under the headline ‘Do or die tour has Coetzee walking a tightrope’, O’Connor writes that this may be a ploy to talk up Joe Schmidt’s side ahead of the clash on Saturday.
‘Whereas once upon a time a Springbok coach would have rocked into Dublin and declared that not one of the hosts’ team would get into his side, as Jake White did in 2004, Coetzee is taking a different approach.
‘Perhaps it should be no surprise. The Boks’ record in Dublin has been patchy since that meeting and Joe Schmidt’s side are one place above their visitors in the World Rugby rankings [Ireland are fourth while the Boks are fifth]. Maybe Coetzee just saw an opportunity to heap a little pressure on someone else for once.’
In the same newspaper, columnist Tony Ward writes: ‘Time to put down marker against Boks’. Ward has stressed the importance of the next meeting in the context of a possible clash in the 2019 World Cup playoffs.
‘Saturday’s meeting in the Aviva is a game of psychological significance and how Schmidt and Allister Coetzee go about their business will be a fascinating battle in itself,’ Ward says.
‘It’s been a tough time for the Springboks but a one-point loss to the All Blacks and back-to-back draws with the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship indicate that South Africa and the under-fire Coetzee could finally be on the rise again. This game in the Aviva is now seen as the defining one in the Springbok year.
‘Despite losing to New Zealand by the narrowest of margins in Newlands the physicality and commitment to the tackle and breakdown took us back to the days of old when psychological bullying in the build-up was backed by brutish bullying on the day.The Springboks will be up for this one in Dublin.’
Last week, World Rugby announced that South Africa was the preferred host nation for the 2023 World Cup. The decision has not gone down well in the competing nations of France and Ireland, with the latter taking aim at World Rugby’s evaluation process.
Writing in the Irish Times, Thornley says: ‘If New Zealand had bid this time around, or if the same criteria applied then [in the lead up to the 2011 World Cup staged in New Zealand], there is no way they would have won the recommendation.
‘Akin to Ireland, New Zealand’s stadia were not ready, and they’d had no recent experience of hosting a comparable sports event. But the six-year window gave them time to upgrade existing stadia… And it was a brilliant World Cup.
‘If this effectively becomes the deciding criteria, then henceforth England, France, Australia and South Africa need only apply, and perhaps Italy at a push. Or maybe even Russia or Qatar?’
Compiled by Jon Cardinelli