‘Boks can bounce back’

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus says there are too many good players in South Africa for the Springboks not to get back to the top of world rugby again.

The Boks had a nightmare 2016 season, losing eight of their 12 Tests to drop to No 6 on the World Rugby rankings. SA Rugby has held two coaching indabas this year and recently made “ground-breaking constitutional changes”, which will allow private investment in provincial unions.

“We know Springbok supporters and our partners are looking to us for instant answers and many of them may want to see heads roll,” Erasmus told the Irish Examiner. “But building winning teams is not an exact science and we want to make sure that the changes we make are the right solutions to our current problems.”

Erasmus, who was SA Rugby's high-performance general manager before joining Munster, said the Boks would bounce back in time.

“It’s so hard for the coaches, the players, the supporters,” he added. “Teams go through patches like this but, you know, there’s an Afrikaans saying, ‘the Springbok will always stand up again’ and they will stand up again. They will make plans and they’ll work it out and they will be back again. They’re going through tough times now but there are too many good players in that country and there are too many good coaches in that country and administrators and they’ll find a way to get to the top again.

“It’s a bad patch now and I remember in 2006, I think South Africa went through five losses in a row and in 2007 they won the World Cup, so while everybody right now is hurting with the performances they’ll find a way to bounce back. South Africans always find a way to stand up again. So I’m sure everybody involved will do some good introspection and see where the hell the problem is, ‘why are we struggling like this’ and they’ll find solutions, they always do.

“There’s too many good rugby players there to fall totally apart. It’s a bad patch, everybody knows it. I know it, my children talk about it, everybody talks about it but you can’t just wish. Even if you’re one of the other countries who don’t like the Springboks, you can’t just wish the good players away there. So they’ll be back.”

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Jon Cardinelli