While Siya Kolisi’s Springboks smashed England to win their third Rugby World Cup crown, they could be even better when the 2023 tournament comes around, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
It was the sort of Sunday when the green ambulance (cream soda) had to save many South Africans from the pits of hangover despair. It was suicide by beer, brannas, whisky, gin or whatever was your poison of choice was the previous day to celebrate the Boks’ victory over England.
But it’s a babelas we’ll happily take. It’s much better than the one Eddie Jones’ England team are trying to negotiate. Their heads, bodies and egos are in pain, after they were bulldozed by a South African team producing one of the most clinical and potent performances ever seen in a World Cup final.
It’s hard to imagine that three years ago the Boks won just four of their 12 Test matches, before suffering a 57-0 drubbing by the All Blacks in Albany and 38-3 defeat by Ireland the following year. But in the space of about 18 months Rassie Erasmus has turned this Springbok team into ruthless outfit, who never looked bothered in the heat of battle of a World Cup final.
In the two years under Allister Coetzee I wondered where the Boks’ mongrel had gone. This team was being outgunned physically by the likes of Italy. The Boks had lost their core values, while they seemed to be stuck in between gameplans.
The Boks had an identity crisis.
But Erasmus pushed the reset button when he took over. He wanted the Boks to get back to their core values of physical domination, a top set piece and a strong defence. Then he sprinkled in some X factor.
We saw the end product on Saturday. It was a glorious performance that none of us who witnessed it will ever forget. The Webb Ellis Cup was the icing on the cake.
But as wonderful as Saturday was, the future could be even brighter for this current crop of Springboks. If they stay together and Erasmus still plays an active role alongside the new coach, South Africa can dominate world rugby over the next four years leading up to RWC 2023 in France.
Besides Tendai Mtawarira and Duane Vermeulen in the pack, and possibly fullback Willie le Roux in the backs, this team is at an age median where most of them should comfortably make the next World Cup. They will be a lot wiser and more street-smart, while this experience in Japan should give them the confidence to know that they can beat anyone.
I would suggest that this Bok team can actually get a lot better, which is a scary proposition. Before the final, they never got out of third gear, while they dispatched of England in cruise-control mode.
This team has the ability to create a dynasty, a lot like New Zealand over the last eight years. There is strength in depth, and if Erasmus can sort out the leaks in the pipeline, our domestic rugby can again become a breeding ground for some of the world’s best players.
Strap yourselves in, there may be more glorious Bok days to celebrate over the next couple of years.