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Rassie Erasmus claims beating Ireland wasn’t ‘monkey off the back win'

By Liam Heagney
The South African pack, aka the bomb squad, (from left) Vincent Koch, Malcolm Marx, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Gerhard Steenekamp, RG Snyman, Salmaan Moerat, Marco van Staden and Kwagga Smith (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Rassie Erasmus has suggested that Saturday’s victory over Ireland wasn’t “a monkey off the back win” for South Africa, claiming they need to double up next weekend in Durban and win the series 2-0 before they can be said to have levelled the score with the Irish.


Before this weekend’s 27-20 win in Pretoria, the Springboks had lost their last three encounters with Ireland, losing in Dublin in 2017 and 2018 and then in Paris last September at the Rugby World Cup.

Erasmus had massively hyped-up the Test series opener to try and pressure the Irish, but Andy Farrell’s side gritted it out to only lose by seven points, a margin that didn’t fully reflect the Springboks’ dominance against an opposition that didn’t attack the game as t wanted.

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“For both teams, some good and some bad,” he reckoned. “Certainly a game where you could see they are a team that has played together in the Six Nations and we haven’t been together for a very long time.

“But then I thought there were some brilliant moments but also some awful moments, which is definitely a thing we can work on. I can’t talk for them but they are a class team and they will come out firing to try and draw the series… To beat them by seven eventually, it’s just a relief because they are definitely a team we have struggled against in the last six years.


Turnovers Won
Turnovers Lost

“We always do everything as a group and as a group since 2018, this is probably the team that we have zero per cent against. The closest average, which is the All Blacks, is 50 per cent since 2018 and over and above that even the British and Irish Lions was 67 per cent.

“So they really had our number and tonight there were instances where they came back so strongly. If they didn’t have one or two big injuries the game would have been much tighter so we know next week, I wouldn’t say it’s a monkey off the back but it’s certainly a really good, competitive team who is No2 and any day can step up and beat you and be No1.”


Erasmus defending his team’s lack of precision. “I would say if you play the No2 team in the world, a team of that quality, firstly creating some opportunities I hope people can see we are trying to develop our attacking game with the foundation that Felix (Jones) laid there.

“With Tony (Brown, the new attack coach) we are trying to step it up a little bit in certain areas. With that comes mistakes, experience and cohesion. Definitely at stages that didn’t happen but then again, they are not No2 for nothing. Their defensive system was really sound.

“When they scored those last two tries we were down to 14 men (after the yellow card to Kurt-Lee Arendse). And I thought also it felt like a very stop-start game. There was a two-minute delay, three-minute delay, injury or just somebody getting treated.

“That’s nobody’s fault but in that regard, for both teams, it buggered up momentum a little bit… Overall the plan worked, we won for the first time in a very long time but that is not done, next weekend there is another Test match.”


Erasmus expects Ireland to get stuck into South Africa in Durban. “Just like tonight, never give up. They will try to be more dominant. I don’t know if the bench will be the same but when (Garry) Ringrose came on they were certainly a little more challenging defensive situations.

“Not that Bundee (Aki) and (Robbie) Henshaw are not great players, they run over you. (Jack) Crowley will be more settled in the second Test. They had a hooker injury, their nine went down.

“They were disruptive things in the game but certainly the Cheslin (Kolbe) try was probably the put-away where we were lucky but then again, until the last second, we were still nervy about the game. No, they are not going to run away and we will have to really perform.”



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Declan 13 days ago

Considering that the Irish team must be physically knackered after an incredibly long season they showed great spirit to stay in the fight till the very end. Doris was the colossus we all know he can be, while Osborne can reflect on his brilliant debut with immense pride.

Craig 15 days ago

The boks have not played together since the World Cup. This is also the first time the Boks have played a full strength team against Ireland. We have always focused on England when on tour in the North and Nz when South hence losing often to Aus. Only now we take Ireland seriously. If Pollard got his kicks and we were not trying a new expansive game and we used the game to give all the boys a run the lead would have been much more.

Turlough 15 days ago

Big sigh of relief from Erasmus. At 13-8 bizarrely it felt SA were under scoreboard pressure. SA registered no points from 28 mins to 65 and Ireland started to get the upper hand from after the bomb squad came on (50 mins). I think SA felt that Ireland might get a purple patch. My feeling is that Leinster’s extended stay at altitude and then Ireland’s in a camp scenario meant that Altitude was not a decisive factor and perhaps Ireland had the more endurance. Ireland scored 12 points in last 5 mins. Now count Kolbe’s try (TMO) +7 points , Lowes restart intervention from what would have been an Irish screm on the centre circle +7 points. Ireland’s dissallowed try +7 points.
That’s 21 points going SA way in that ending. I am not suggesting Ireland should have won. I do think there is evidence that SA got the fitness assessment wrong and ran themselves into problems? If points go other way the score is 27-13.
Although better on the day Ireland will have some regrets. But I think a few ‘altitude’ mistakes on both sides opened it up at the end.
Long and short of it, will Erasmus risk the expansive game again? There may be less jeopardy at sea level but I predict SA will have a more typical Plan B to revert to very quickly if things aren’t going well.

John 15 days ago

That game was closer than it should’ve been - one brilliant Irish try and one soft one with RSA showing weak defense late in H2. JGP was absent - it’s hard to take the measure of the Irish without both JGP and Ringrose

Lloyd 15 days ago

They lost to South Africa and us

Lloyd 15 days ago

They lost to South Africa we beat England

Lloyd 15 days ago

Ireland isn't 2 we are All Black's We beat them in the world cup 🍶🍵

Dan 15 days ago

Indeed. Especially since Pearce & Whitehouse clearly did all the heavy lifting for the Boks to get an undeserved victory.

Wayne Barnes must be so proud they’ve followed in his footsteps!

Flankly 15 days ago

“some brilliant moments but also some awful moments” - quite right.

jim 15 days ago

Pretty fair and accurate comments I think

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