Rassie Erasmus says he would have stepped down as Springbok coach if the team did not beat the All Blacks in Wellington in 2018.
Erasmus finished his two-year tenure by coaching the Springboks to their first World Cup title in 12 years and third overall. As was originally his plan, Erasmus will be stepping down as Bok coach to focus on his responsibilities as SA Rugby director of rugby.
However, Erasmus revealed after the 32-12 win over England in the World Cup final that he came close to stepping away from the job in 2018. After two sucessive defeats by Argentina and Australia in the 2018 Rugby Championship, Erasmus found himself under pressure as the Boks prepared to face the All Blacks in Wellington.
At that stage the Springboks had lost their last six games against their old rivals and had not won a game in New Zealand since 2009. In one of the upsets of the year, the Boks scored five tries to beat the All Blacks 36-34. It is a result that many have pointed to as a crucial turning point in the Erasmus era as it gave the Boks the belief that they could beat the best in the world.
‘We had a lot of small targets where we tried to simulate matches, as there was only 18 Test matches before the World Cup,’ Erasmus said after the World Cup final. ‘Playing against the All Blacks in Wellington was like a quarter-final.
‘We lost to Australia and Argentina, and if we didn’t win in Wellington I would have resigned. I have never lost three games in a row as a coach and if I did that I don’t deserve to be a Springbok coach. We played New Zealand in Wellington and that was important, as if we lost it I wouldn’t be here.’
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