On the surface, the Springboks had no business winning the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but in hindsight there was always magic in Rassie Erasmus’ ‘madness’, writes DEVIN HERMANUS.
Why did the Boks deserve to win this year’s tournament? Well, it’s not all about their style of play or gritty playoff performances; it’s about the smoke and mirrors that happened off the field, orchestrated by the brains trust of Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber.
Erasmus is the master of creating distractions. He’s like a magician who pulls rabbits out of hats, except his rabbits are tweets, videos, and press conference subterfuge. As other teams meticulously fine-tuned their tactics and selections, Rassie was busy stirring the pot.
His Twitter escapades were like a soap opera, leaving the rugby world both amused and bewildered. Who could forget when he decided to follow only the official Scotland and Ireland accounts leading up to those pool stage clashes? It was as if he was auditioning for a role in a reality TV show, and he nailed it!
And let’s not ignore the disco lights. Erasmus has a knack for unorthodox tactics that leave everyone scratching their heads. These methods were like the secret ingredients of his rugby stew. But, while rival coaches were busy playing chess, Erasmus was playing 4D checkers, and it seemed to be working.
Meanwhile, Nienaber was the yin to Erasmus’ yang. While SA’s director of rugby was out causing Twitterstorms, the Bok coach was tinkering with team lineups and strategy. He’d try different combinations, tell us “the kickers are kicking”, and then sit back and watch it all unfold on the pitch.
And it didn’t matter if the Boks lost a Test or two in the process because, hey, it was all in the name of getting answers to questions only they thought to ask.
Even more telling is the all-in relationship between the management and the squad. The players were told to trust the process, and embrace the chicanery. It’s like being asked to have faith in a chef who’s throwing random ingredients into a saucepan and hoping it turns into a gourmet meal.
The media addresses were a spectacle of their own. Erasmus and Nienaber played fast and loose with the facts, leaving journalists trying to decipher their cryptic soundbites. It was like they had a secret code that only they understood. While other coaches were giving straightforward answers, the Bok bosses were weaving a web of intrigue.
Now, let’s contrast this with Ireland and France, who did their talking on the field with strong showings in 2022 and 2023 in the buildup to the World Cup. They were the poster boys for consistency, while the Boks were busy experimenting with Bomb Squads and Nuclear Squads.
So, is it fair that the Boks won back-to-back World Cups, becoming unprecedented four-time champions through controversial 7-1 bench splits and social media scheming? Well, it’s a bit like winning the lottery – unexpected and a tad ridiculous in the world of professional sport, where the absurd and miraculous are often blurred.
In the end, the Springboks’ World Cup triumph was a testament to Erasmus and Nienaber orchestrating a symphony of zaniness, and it somehow produced beautiful harmony.
Other teams may have played by the book, but the Boks wrote their own script and emerged as champions of the world, again. Another reminder that there’s method to Rassie’s madness, and the unconventional only adds to the sweet taste of victory.