As the dust settles from the Springboks’ World Cup-winning exploits in Japan, the South Africans are being urged to prove their status as world champions with a clean sweep over the All Blacks next year.
Rassie Erasmus’ squad have been touring around the country in celebration of their World Cup victory, but one of South Africa’s leading rugby writers, Robert Houwing of Sport 24, believes the Boks can’t rest on their laurels leading into 2020.
“Clawing back some much-needed statistical terrain from their fiercest rivals of all – the All Blacks – will be one of the major priorities for Erasmus as he shifts more actively into his role as director of rugby from 2020 onward,” he wrote in a Sport24 piece published on Thursday.
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The All Blacks will face the Springboks twice next season as part of the annual Rugby Championship, and Houwing said that defeating the Kiwis, the world’s second-ranked side, in both fixtures will be imperative as they “must include a spirited quest to start beating New Zealand more regularly again”.
While South Africa finished 2019 as both Rugby Championship and World Cup titleholders, Houwing questioned their pool play defeat at the hands of the All Blacks, which was the only blemish on their journey to lifting the Webb Ellis Cup.
“If Siya Kolisi’s World Cup champions aspire to only grow and prove their RWC success was no flash in the plan, they must target not just retention of the Championship crown, but ideally victory – formidable though the requirement is – in both the home and away clashes with the old enemy in 2020,” he said.
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“That would really be a major statement of Bok intentions going forward, with both Erasmus and Kolisi still very much at the fulcrum of things.”
The Springboks haven’t beaten the All Blacks both home and away since 2009, when they won in Bloemfontein and Hamilton en route to claiming the old Tri Nations title.
New Zealand still lead one of rugby’s premier rivalries 59-36 overall, with four draws.
“The last time the All Blacks failed to win the World Cup – but South Africa again did – in 2007, the Boks couldn’t establish specific supremacy over NZ the following season: they were outdone 2-1, including a Newlands match where the hosts couldn’t notch a single point in a 19-0 setback,” Houwing noted.
“Will the current world-champion Boks be guilty of the same ‘mistake’, so soon after their global crowning?
“They SHOULD be capable of significantly better against their fiercest historical foes in 2020.”
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