Rassie Erasmus, Director of Rugby at SA Rugby, says he has no doubt that the scrapping of the 30-cap eligibility rule for overseas players was vital for the Springboks Rugby World Cup campaign. Talking on a new SA Rugby podcast, Erasmus outlines what he and the team are doing behind the scenes and reflected on the six-month anniversary of the Springboks’ 32-12 Rugby World Cup final victory over England in Japan.
Erasmus has no doubt that scrapping the 30-cap eligibility rule on saved the Springboks Rugby World Cup. The controversial decision was criticised in some quarters, but it bore fruit at the tournament despite an early loss to the All Blacks in the pool stages.
‘I have no doubt if we didn’t take away the 30-cap rule we wouldn’t have won the Rugby World Cup. I’ve got no doubt about that. And I have no doubt we wouldn’t have been able to keep the players in South African as we just don’t have the money to.
“It is reality, and the moment you accept reality and we work with this and we find creative ways around that. As you know, we sent the letters to all the clubs, saying that we are going to enforce Regulation 9. But the problem with that was when you get a player who is injured or unfit or doesn’t know the game plan.
“Before we had an alignment camp physically. But Felix actually went to all the overseas players who were in the reckoning and he had alignment camps with them.
“He took Handre Pollard and his wife out for dinner, brought him up to speed on what our plan is this year, where we’re going to train, how we’re going to play.
“There were then no surprises when those guys fell back into us. That’s the big role Felix played for us.”
Rassie also says the Springboks won’t fail after the Rugby World Cup in the way the 1995 and 2007 teams ultimately did.
“From our side, we are really working so hard, and I want to guarantee our supporters, as soon as the Springboks are back on the field, we will make you proud, like we did last year,” said Erasmus.
“As we said last year, if we work hard and play well, and our fans keep on supporting us and the media reports well, we really are stronger together. And nothing should change because of this virus.”
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