It’s tempting to talk up the final at the Stade de France as a match that will define an era.
Several players and coaches will move on at the conclusion of this tournament. They have spoken at length about their desire to finish this chapter on a record-breaking high.
If the Boks beat the All Blacks in the decider on 28 October, they will become the first South African side to win back-to-back World Cup titles, and only the second Test group, after the great All Blacks team triumphed in 2011 and 2015.
It’s worth considering how the Boks find themselves in this position, and how they have changed the way rugby is played and supported in SA over the past six years.
Although it’s important that they push on and claim another title in France, there’s ample evidence to suggest that what Rassie Erasmus, Jacques Nienaber, Siya Kolisi and others have built has paved the way for a more inclusive and prosperous future.
Uniting the country
In the hours leading up to the final, Erasmus and Nienaber will be reminding the players about what they are playing for, and how a thriving multicultural team has the power to unite a largely divided country.
If the players don’t focus on their individual jobs, the team won’t win matches. And if the team doesn’t win matches, the Boks won’t win trophies or inspire the nation.
Many laughed at Erasmus when he laid out his ambitious plans and goals. But as time progressed, the method in his supposed madness became clearer.
The Boks slumped to several record defeats across the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and were ranked seventh in the world when Erasmus and Nienaber took over the reins in 2018.
Erasmus’ Boks lost half of their matches in that first season, but beat England in a fiercely contested series, and went on to claim a rare victory against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil.
The Boks continued to build in 2019, and made a further statement when they won their first Rugby Championship title in 10 years. They rode that momentum into the World Cup in Japan, and went on to hammer a more fancied England 32-12 in the final.
Rebounding after Covid
The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted their plans to progress in 2020, as they were forced to miss an entire season of Test rugby.
Nevertheless, they came together to win a particularly intense series against the British & Irish Lions in 2021. Though they battled for consistency in the
…. to be continued
Read full article at the Original Source
Copyright for syndicated content belongs to the linked Source : DailyMaverick – https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2023-10-28-road-to-rugby-world-cup-final-how-erasmus-and-nienaber-rebuilt-the-springboks/