Boks are on right track
THE SPRINGBOKS continue to do their country proud and the portents are good that our national rugby team is laying sound foundations for the Rugby World Cup a year from now.
This season, SA Rugby’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, seconded himself to the Springbok coaching position, taking responsibility for the ruinous state of our national team.
The previous two years had been disastrous for the Springboks, with humiliating defeats mounting and supporters in despair. Erasmus, who had forged his reputation coaching Ireland giants Munster before returning to South Africa midway through 2017, is well known as a meticulous and strategic planner. In June we saw the first fruits of his preparation when the Boks won a series against England, playing a stirring brand of rugby. At Kings Park against Argentina on Saturday – the Boks’ first action since June – we saw them shake off the cobwebs in the first half before finding their rhythm in the second to run in a succession of excellent tries.
Erasmus’s commitment to transforming the Springboks was evident in that we saw five of their six tries scored by black players. There were two apiece for brilliant young wings Aphiwe Dyantyi (the Lions) and Makazole Mapimpi (the Sharks), with another Shark in Lukhanyo Am also scoring. Further, there was the pleasing sight of 20-year-old Damian Willemse (Stormers) being given a surprise debut in the flyhalf position.
An indication of the good things happening in this Springbok team was the sterling performance of warhorse Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), the captain last year who had not played so much as a minute of rugby since being injured in November in Cardiff.
The 68-cap veteran gave a rousing performance, afterwards saying he could not get enough of the good feeling so evident in the team.
The Springboks play the Pumas in a return match in Mendoza, Argentina, tonight. It’s not easy to play in Argentina these days, but we wish our Boks well.