Still more work to be done says Duane Vermeulen

History shows that no team that wins the Rugby Championship (or its predecessor the Tri-Nations) in a World Cup year goes on to win the World Cup. History also shows that the Springboks win the World Cup every 12 years and it’s been 12 years since South Africa’s last triumph. So one version of history will be debunked in Japan. Suddenly the Bok team looks settled, confident, exciting. The front row is world class (particularly Trevor Nyakane), so is the flyhalf. The locks are dominant, the loose forwards are rampant, the backs can attack and defend. There appears to be rich pickings in all positions and no vulnerabilities. Suddenly the All Blacks look shaky, unsettled, beatable. Their front row is shaky, the flyhalf position is up for grabs. The locks aren’t scary, the loose forwards aren’t as dangerous, the backline could be better. Suddenly the Springboks’ chances of winning that big game against New Zealand in Yokohama on Sept 20th have improved immeasurably. The reality is that the Springboks are now coming together well, and the All Blacks are unsettled. South Africa might have won the Rugby Championship in a year when it’s not the biggest deal, but the confidence boost is huge. Coach Rassie Erasmus has one more game left – against Argentina at Loftus on Saturday – to finalise his squad for the World Cup. – David O’Sullivan

From SARugby

South Africa will enjoy their victory over Argentina and their triumph in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, but Springbok captain Duane Vermeulen said these moments are all stepping stones towards the big goal of the year, the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The Boks smashed Argentina 46-13 in Salta on Saturday to clinch the Southern Hemisphere crown for the first time since 2009.

But Vermeulen was quick to emphasise that their work is far from done as the Boks continue to fine tune their game before the start of the RWC next month in Japan.

The Springboks delivered a clinical attacking performance and a powerful forward display to outsmart and outmuscle their South American hosts at the high altitude venue in Salta.

“I think for us the most important thing was to work on our consistency,” was the response from the Bok skipper immediately after the game.

“We started the Castle Lager Rugby Championship working on executing our plans, and in a way we are happy with our performance but there are still a few things to work on.

“It’s a great feeling for us to walk away with the title, but in the end it’s a stepping stone for us going into the World Cup.”

The Springboks finished their campaign unbeaten following two wins and draw, and the impact of Saturday’s impressive win is something that Vermeulen was very aware of.

“The victory is a great thing for our country because we know that if the Springboks do well then everyone is happy in South Africa,” said Vermeulen.

“So for us it’s a great feeling, but I want to emphasise it’s more about working on our consistency and working towards the things we hope to achieve.

“New Zealand had a tough game and they will be hungry to bounce back so we have to prepare well (for the RWC opening group next month). But we are happy with where we are at the moment.”

The win was by the biggest margin (33 points) in the 17 matches under the tutelage of Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, and took the team’s try tally in this year’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship to 11.

The Springboks will wrap up their preparations for the Rugby World Cup with a rematch against the Pumas at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday in their Farewell Test. The team arrive back in the country on Monday morning.