Rassie: World Cup success a 'realistic goal'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks have been sliding down a rabbit hole for the last two years. However, newly appointed Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus believes they will soon dig their way out.
Erasmus made a return to South Africa after a successful 18-month stint with Pro14 side Munster in Ireland.
The South African rugby fraternity welcomed the appointment with open arms, especially after struggling under Allister Coetzee.
During Coetzee's tenure, the Boks slipped to sixth on the World Rankings and have suffered record defeats to Ireland (3-38 during the November Test Series) and New Zealand (0-57 during the Rugby Championship)
Erasmus' first Test will come in the shape of England in June and with the current uncertainties surrounding the Springbok coaching personnel, the Director of rugby is facing massive challenges.
However, Erasmus assured fans these issues will not hinder their preparation for Eddie Jones' troops.
"We currently ranked sixth in the world so my immediate focus is to improve that," Erasmus told the media at the SA Rugby Academy in Stellenbosch.
"We are certainly doing a lot of planning [to regain our status as a feared rugby nation].
"All of us want things [with the coaching roles and responsibilities] to be in place as soon as possible‚ but I don't see it as a massive problem.
"I can take you back to 2012 when Heyneke [Meyer] was appointed and we [the Rugby Department] did all the planning.
"A lot of the support staff were only confirmed shortly before the start of that first test series‚ and we beat England in that series. It was the same with Allister two years ago‚ and we beat Ireland 2-1.
"So there has been planning going on behind the scenes‚ and of course we want to get that clarity‚ but there is a process that has to run its course.
"However‚ it’s not hindering us in the background and it isn’t affecting my role as director of rugby‚ which is to ensure that we are as well prepared as possible to be able to beat England in that first test series,"
When asked if success at the 2019 World Cup is a realistic goal, the 45-year-old was very optimistic and revealed that those preparations are already underway.
"I think 2019 is a realistic goal. We have the players. We have the talent. We have 18 Test matches and great Super Rugby teams.
"It's not like we did nothing in the last two years.
"We played, we came close in certain matches [against Australia and New Zealand, respectively] and some we got smashed. But it's not like we got thrashed every single week.
"So, I think small little tweaks and having an open conversation with the franchises will give us a realistic chance at the 2019 World Cup,"
By Leezil Hendricks