Rassie Erasmus reflects on Springboks camp as ‘new chapter’ begins

Jared Wright
Rassie Erasmus SA v France RWC 2023 - Alamy.jpg

Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.

Rassie Erasmus has hailed the work done at the first Springboks alignment camp of 2024 ahead of the Tests against Wales, Ireland and Portugal.

It was the first time the new coaching team gathered as 43 players – 39 domestic players and four Japan-based stars – met in Cape Town for a two-day alignment camp.

Erasmus has taken over the head coach duties following the departure of Jacques Nienaber to Leinster following the Rugby World Cup and has added former Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery (defence) and ex-All Black Tony Brown (attack) to the coaching team.

Former Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen and ex-referee Jaco Peyper have also taken up coaching roles with SA Rugby and joined the strategic coaches’ sessions.

The alignment camps not only gave the coaches the opportunity to meet in person with their colleagues and the players but also allowed for discussions in their areas of expertise and alignment on the way forward for the Springboks in 2024 and beyond.

Springboks ‘must grow’

South Africa kick off their Test season with a neutral ground fixture against Wales in Twickenham before hosting Ireland in back-to-back Tests followed by a one-off clash against Portugal before the Rugby Championship and November internationals.

“As a coaching team we have a good idea of what we’d like to do this season and we are excited to present our key pillars to this group of players,” said Springbok coach Erasmus.

“This is a solid group of players, and these camps will be invaluable in putting the groundwork in place – not only for this season but also to set the tone in terms of where we’d like to take our game going forward.

“The sport is progressing at a rapid rate, and we must grow as a team to remain at the forefront of where rugby is moving. We made it clear last year that what we did in 2019 would not be enough to defend our title at the 2023 World Cup, and the same concept applies after last year’s international spectacle.”

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New coaches settling in

Erasmus added that the new coaching additions wasted no time in settling in and quickly built relationships with the players present.

“It was fantastic to have the coaches and Jaco in the same room and to share our ideas with an eye on the 2024 season,” he said.

“We’ve had several online meetings in the last few months, but the human element is always great, and this camp allowed everyone to get to know one another in a personal and professional manner.”

Erasmus added: “We are pleased with the foundation laid before we kick off the player sessions on Wednesday, and it’s great to see the enthusiasm among the coaches to get the season underway.

“Tony, Jerry and Jaco leapt straight into the swing of things, and it’s fantastic to see how they bonded with the rest of the coaching team who have been in the system for the last few years, so we are looking forward to this new chapter for Springbok rugby.”

South Africa’s return to action is highly anticipated, with their first home fixture against Ireland since defending their World Cup title in France selling out within an hour of its release to the public.

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