Rassie Erasmus is backing his beaten Springboks to bounce back and become the first side in World Cup history to win a World Cup having lost a match in the pool stages.
No team in the previous eight World Cups recovered from a group stage defeat to go on and take the trophy. But South Africa boss Erasmus is optimistic this pattern, which has existed since 198, can be broken in 2019 after he saw his side lose to New Zealand in Yokohama on Saturday.
“I guess that is the challenge we will have to now take. History is there to break. Now we have to fight. But we can’t moan about this performance. We just have to work really hard,” he said in the wake of a 23-13 loss to the defending champions that he had no complaints over.
“They deserved to win. They scored two tries to one. And the penalty count, I think 10 against us and only two against them. That’s a win by them and it showed on the scoreboard.
“We fought our way back but we just couldn’t convert (our chances) inside their 22. And if you concede 10 penalties against them, they will kick you all over the place.”
(Continue reading below…)
New Zealand boss Steve Hansen was delighted his team held off a South African fightback that had reduced the 14-point interval margin to four points midway through the second half.
“They [South Africa] are never out of it. They are always a team that will come back. They don’t die, they stay in the fight.
“It was a big game for both sides and fortunately for us w,e came out on top. It was another titanic struggle. Hopefully, the people watching enjoyed it and got excited by it.”
The All Blacks now have a 10-day wait until their next match against Canada. “There’s a group who will need a break and another group who will be keen to get on the park and have their turn. We’ll use the next couple of days wisely and then get back into it.”
WATCH: The trailer for the new RugbyPass documentary, Tonga: Road To Japan
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.