Springboks were “terrible” says coach Rassie

JOHANNESBURG — The cold, wet conditions ensured that the third and final Test between South Africa and England at Newlands was an ugly match. No Springbok rose to the occasion, or to use coach Rassie Erasmus’s assessment of his team –  they “were terrible”. The player bearing the brunt of the analysts’ criticism is Elton Jantjies. Once again he lived up to his reputation of being a very good player for his franchise, but below par for his country. This match was seen as something of a “last chance saloon” for the Lions flyhalf, and he blew it. Erasmus has made it clear that he was using this match to try combinations in preparation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Handre Pollard has shown his worth in the first two Tests of this series, now it was Jantjies’s turn. It might be harsh to discard him after 26 Test matches, especially in those foul conditions, but he found it difficult to adapt to the wet. At this level, much more is expected and Pollard has proved he can perform on the biggest stage. Barring injury (which cannot be ignored given Pollard’s run of luck), the Bulls number 10 looks destined to be the Springboks’ World Cup flyhalf. It’ll be interesting to see if Erasmus is prepared to give Jantjies another chance during the Rugby Championship later this year. Or, as with Newlands Stadium, was this Jantjies’s last Test match? – David O’Sullivan

From SA Rugby

The Springboks have the potential to win the Rugby World Cup, agreed the coaches of South Africa and England, despite a “terrible” performance in a 25-10 defeat in the third and final test of the Castle Lager Incoming Series at a sodden DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

South Africa won the series 2-1, but Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, was a disappointed man after the reverse.

Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit in action against the English in the third test at Newlands. Credit: SARugby.

“We were terrible today, in my opinion,” said Erasmus.

“We did learn a lot today, we knew we took a gamble and we looked at combinations but the things we got wrong had nothing to do with combinations, they were things that we could control such as discipline and breakdown play.

“We spoke about the breakdown before the game – we spoke about it five minutes before we went out because we know how Glen Jackson [the referee] blows the breakdown; he likes a nice clean breakdown – it was not a surprise to us.”

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi added: “The referee did a great job, we just made a lot of mistakes. There were things we were in control of that we got wrong. There were no signs at training; we worked really hard.”

Erasmus added: “Sad to say, we didn’t get up for this game. I will have to look at myself and how we prepared – maybe I made mistakes but we’ll have to analyse how the different players reacted to playing a different game in a different competition.”

However, Erasmus was upbeat about South Africa’s potential: “I really think we can win the World Cup. If we can get it right quickly then we are definitely in with a chance – but we have to manage our talent.

“There’s a lot of things we have to balance so that we have fresh, experienced team with a lot of talent when we go to the World Cup.”

England coach Eddie Jones said: “The big difference between the Boks now and six months ago is that they work much harder off the ball; they’ve got a strong maul and when the opportunity arises, they have the ability to move the ball wide and in Willie le Roux they have someone who makes really good decisions.

“South Africa has got some bloody young players and incredible depth. They have made some really good gains over the past few weeks and they will continue to get stronger.

“The South African side is revitalised; they are well coached, well balanced and played some good rugby. In the first two games they were too good for us and deserved to win the series, but they were small margins in the series.”

South Africa are next in action against Argentina in Durban in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship on 19 August, 2018.