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Rassie Erasmus almost quit Springboks

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Rassie Erasmus was on the cusp of quitting as Springboks coach after a run of average results

South Africa’s inspirational coach may not have been on board to lead the Springboks to their third-ever World Cup win if results had panned out slightly differently in 2018.

Rassie Erasmus revealed earlier this week that he seriously considered resigning as head coach of the now-world champions last year on the back of a string of defeats.

Erasmus took over as head coach of the Springboks in March of 2018. The previous coach, Allister Coetzee, was sacked after a disastrous run of eight games which saw South Africa record just two wins (against Italy, and by a point against France).

With not a lot of time to prepare before 2019’s World Cup, Erasmus was straight into his work preparing the flailing national side. It didn’t start on the highest of notes, however.

“We had a lot of small targets where we tried to simulate matches, as there was only 18 Test matches before the World Cup,” Erasmus said.

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“We lost to Australia and Argentina, and if we didn’t win in Wellington, I would have resigned.

“I have never lost three games in a row as a coach and if I did that I don’t deserve to be a Springbok coach. We played New Zealand in Wellington and that was important, as if we lost it I wouldn’t be here,” he said after the final.

What eventuated was South Africa’s first win on New Zealand soil since the Springboks whitewashed the All Blacks in 2009. A year later, they recorded a draw at the same ground in Wellington.

That 2018 victory was a massive turning point for South Africa, who since recorded 13 wins and a draw from 18 matches.

“We were terrible at [maintaining consistency] in 2018 – we were up and down – but this year we’ve played 12 and lost one [and drawn one] so we have got that consistency back. And yes, we’ve got the World Cup here, but going into next year if you lose the first Test people forget about the World Cup and that’s not where we want to be,” said Erasmus.

With the World Cup done and dusted, Erasmus will now cast one eye towards the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa – although that will be in his new role as South Africa’s Director of Rugby.

“When I took over two years, 18 months ago, it was just 618 days until the World Cup and we planned to win it. It is now about 614 days until the British & Irish Lions arrive in South Africa and we will start planning for that now,” Erasmus said.

Erasmus and the Springboks will likely have a more consistent preparation than Warren Gatland’s Lions, thanks to Gatland’s new gig as head coach of the Chiefs.

See what Rassie Erasmus and Springboks captain Siya Kolisi had to say after their World Cup triumph:

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Rassie Erasmus was on the cusp of quitting as Springboks coach after a run of average results