Rassie Erasmus believes that the conditions in Japan will have improved by the time the World Cup reaches the quarter-final stage. JON CARDINELLI in Toyota reports.
A lot has been made about the heat and humidity since the Boks arrived in Japan at the beginning of September. The coaches and players have highlighted the difficulty of handling the ball in training sessions and in the first two World Cup pool matches against the All Blacks and Namibia.
There was no rain in Toyota on Saturday. The weather was extremely warm and humid, though, and it didn’t take long for players on both sides to become soaked with sweat.
‘Nothing compares to this,’ Frans Steyn said after the 57-3 win.
The Bok centre has experienced wet-weather conditions while playing club rugby in Europe as well as similarly humid conditions while representing the Sharks in his younger years. What the teams are dealing with right now at the World Cup in Japan, however, is something completely different.
‘We don’t get this anywhere else. Not even in Durban. It was really slippery in the second half.’
Erasmus has highlighted the challenge of the conditions at every opportunity over the course of this campaign. The good news is that the ball shouldn’t be as slippery when Japan starts to undergo a seasonal change next month.
‘According to our players who have played in Japan before, there is a sudden change at that time of year,’ the Bok coach explained. ‘The temperature doesn’t change much, but the humidity does and handling becomes a bit easier because the ball is not as wet.
‘That’s why we always felt that there would be one or two upsets in the early stages of this tournament,’ he added, referring to Japan’s shock win against Ireland on Saturday afternoon.
‘I don’t think that humidity will play as great a role in the playoffs.’
Lood de Jager – who was named Man of the Match after completing 15 tackles and winning 10 lineouts – said that the team should have adapted at certain stages of the game against Namibia.
‘We saw this game as an opportunity to get our maul right, and I’m glad that things went well,’ the Bok lock said. ‘Hopefully we can use it as a weapon in the coming games.
‘We got a bit sloppy at times, though. That’s something we have to look at. We have to be switched on for 80 minutes when we get to the big games later in the tournament.’
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