Rassie Erasmus says the Springboks have not been taken in by talk about England being a bad team and the statistics suggest Saturday’s World Cup semi-final will be tight.
South Africa’s director of rugby, who coached the Springboks to 2019 World Cup glory with a 32-12 thumping of England, added that unlike them England had won all their matches thus far.
The English, though, have had the easier run of opponents and generally not raised the roof with their performances.
Erasmus and head coach Jacques Nienaber’s Boks have on the other hand emerged from a tougher pool albeit having lost 13-8 to Ireland, whom they replaced as world No 1 on Monday.
Their remarkable 29-28 victory over hosts and title favourites France in Sunday’s thrilling quarter-final makes the Springboks firm favourites to reach the final.
“If we think England is bad because people from outside say that they are not doing well… our reality is the truth, not the reality that people create outside our camp,” said Erasmus told reporters on Monday.
“We know from the [English] Premiership, a lot of our players play against them and we know [Steve] Borthwick is an excellent coach which he showed at Leicester and as a captain and a player for England.
“It will be a very tough test against a team that hasn’t lost a game and more or less conceded the same amount of tries and racked up the same amount of points.
“You can know how close this game [will be] – if you just look at stats and I know stats don’t always tell the whole picture.”
Erasmus said he had been taken aback by how open all four quarter-finals were, but believes the semis will see a return to more traditional hard fought rugby.
“I was surprised how in the quarter-finals there were so many tries scored,” said Erasmus. “That was something different. But I guess when we go into semi-finals, again defence, scrum, mauls, tactical kicking.
“As it get’s closer to that final, and hopefully we are in that final if we get past England, those deep, mechanical fundamentals of the game will always start getting more and more important.”
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP