Former Ireland fullback Girvan Dempsey believes that Rassie Erasmus’ return to South Africa will aid the struggling Springboks, reports JON CARDINELLI.
In late June, SA Rugby confirmed the worst-kept secret in the country. Erasmus will leave Irish club Munster at the end of 2017 and take up a director of rugby position (officially) at SA Rugby on 1 January 2018.
The Springboks lost eight of their 12 Tests in 2016. This year, they have managed three wins against France, two against Argentina, and a draw against Australia. The result that stands out, though, is the most recent defeat in New Zealand; a record 57-0 loss to the All Blacks.
Much has been said about South African rugby’s shortcomings in the wake of that nightmare in Albany. Erasmus will certainly have his work cut out for him – at all levels of the game – when he takes up the post.
Leinster assistant coach Girvan Dempsey has coached against Erasmus in the Pro14. Dempsey is currently in Cape Town with the Irish club, preparing for the next Pro14 clash against the Cheetahs. On Monday, the former Ireland fullback said that Erasmus’ return to South African rugby should boost the Boks.
‘He is going to add massive value to South African rugby,’ said Dempsey. ‘If you speak to the guys at Munster, he is highly regarded. He has put some impressive structures into place and you see how they’ve played after the last few seasons, how they’ve gone in Europe and the Pro12 that was.’
Dempsey also offered an outsider’s view of where South African rugby and the Boks stand at present.
‘It’s positive from an international perspective,’ he said. ‘If you take the last weekend out of the discussion, there’s been a lot of encouraging signs in terms of how the Boks have been performing. Last Saturday, there were challenges against the All Blacks. The Boks turned over possession, and that’s where the All Blacks are dangerous, from that turnover ball.
‘Three of their Super Rugby sides were extremely competitive this year [the Lions, Stormers and Sharks]. The Lions were obviously a standout team [having progressed to the final]. From that perspective it’s still a top place to come and tour.
‘We know that the Cheetahs and Kings will only get stronger as the Pro14 progresses. In that sense, we are happy to get down here early in the tournament.’
Leinster beat the Kings 31-10 in Port Elizabeth last week. They will tackle the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.
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