Erasmus backs Boks to bounce back

Date published: December 26 2016

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is optimistic that the Springboks will bounce back from their poor performances in 2016.

The two-time world champions appointed Allister Coetzee as their head coach after bowing out at the semi-finals at last year's Rugby World Cup in England, but things have not gone according to plan and they won just four out of 12 Tests in 2016.

Coetzee's apologies to the South African public for the team's poor showings became a regular occurrence and the season reached its lowest point when the Boks suffered a humiliating 20-18 defeat to Italy in Florence on their end-of-year tour in November.

In a bid to improve matters, two coaching indabas have been held in 2016 and the South African Rugby Union introduced what it described as “ground-breaking constitutional changes”, which will allow private investment in SARU’s 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.”

The Boks' poor results in 2016 have seen them drop to sixth position in World Rugby's rankings but Erasmus believes the team will turn the corner in due 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.”