Rassie Erasmus — Springbok Changes Loom

Rassie Erasmus

Laurence Grigorov is director at Laurence Martin Developments, a residential property development company based in Johannesburg, South Africa that specialises in high-end luxury residential developments. Laurence Grigorov enjoys watching sport and rugby in particular in his downtime.

He is a keen supporter of the South African Springbok rugby team and has been following the end of year tour to Europe.

No matter what the results may be over the remainder of the Springboks’ end-of-year tour, considerable changes to the current coaching and player group must take place, writes Craig Lewis for www.sarugbymag.co.za

Despite seeing the Springboks suffer a record loss to Ireland that once would have been unimaginable, there was a very real sense that Bok supporters were hardly shocked by the outcome in Dublin.

So where to from here? Well, it has to be for change to take place, and the good news is that it’s now simply inevitable.

This will be the last week assistant coach Johann van Graan will be with the Boks before taking up his new director of rugby position with Munster, while Brendan Venter will also leave the camp in the week of the Italy Test. His long-term role beyond this year remains unclear.

The same can be said of Allister Coetzee. After this tour, a performance review will take place, where he will have another chance to explain away a second season of underperformance. If one recalls, though, it was around this time last year that Coetzee already used his get-out-of-jail free card.

When reviewing a 2016 season that yielded just four wins and a host of shock losses, he insisted this year would be better once he’d had more time to work with the team and settle on plans and preparations.

Upon reflection, there have been some improvements, but it’s been mighty far from good enough. Yes, the players have made real progress in terms of fitness and conditioning, but many of the skills and execution have remained abjectly poor.

Of course, it’s easy to criticise in hindsight, but the fact remains that Coetzee was handed a second chance this year, and his plans just haven’t come to full fruition. Even if the Boks respond with a typical ‘backs-to-the-wall’ response over the next three weeks, it must surely be too little, too late.

Whatever the case may be, Rassie Erasmus is coming in as director of rugby, and while some suits in SA Rugby might accept mediocrity, this man will not.

Erasmus has given up a highly profitable job at Munster, where he had been successful and widely popular, because he wants to set South African and Springbok rugby back on the right track.

Make no mistake, he will have very clear-cut plans about what he feels needs to be done to turn things around, and as the de facto head of South African rugby, maintaining the current status quo will surely not be part of those plans.

Erasmus will bring fresh views on the make-up of the coaching set-up, and which players need to be involved. A role change or redeployment of Coetzee can be expected, while defence guru Jacques Nienaber will surely once again add his respected coaching influence to the Bok cause.

With Erasmus having spent time both coaching with and against overseas-based players, he will also have a very different view who could still have a role to play with the Boks.

One way or another, much-needed change is on the horizon, and it can’t come soon enough.

Laurence Grigorov is bitterly disappointed t the heavy loss to Ireland and is hoping that the Springboks will be able to bounce back against France in the weekend match.