Are we to believe Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus when he suggests that he could be out of a job on Sunday?
Yes, Erasmus has, publicly, stated that “if we do really bad here [against the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday], then I will probably not be in the seat for the next couple of matches and somebody else will probably be there”.
The Bok coach, who is also the South African Rugby Union’s Director of Rugby, has also said he will “accept the consequences” for the team’s current losing streak.
However, only the short-sighted will support calls for the removal of Erasmus.
Let’s take a step back and take the emotion out of the situation.
Yes, the Springboks – winning or losing – remain and emotive subject, especially in a country where portions of the population follow it with religious devotion.
However, that has – repeatedly in the past – resulting in the axing of coaches before the end of their terms.
We often compare the Springboks to the All Blacks and want them to be as efficient and consistent as New Zealand.
That will only happen if they take a leaf out of the All Black book.
After what, for them, was a disaster at the 2007 World Cup, they did not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
They showed faith in Graham Henry and Steve Hansen and a decade later are the most dominant force in the sport’s history.
Reading between the lines – and given his six-year contract – Erasmus’ appointment was done with the same vision.
Despite the headline-grabbing statement in New Zealand this week, Erasmus will certainly NOT walk away – regardless of the outcome of their encounter with the mighty All Blacks.
He made it clear his current selection policy – given the political directives he functions under – is with a view to the long-term sustainability of Bok rugby.
“We [the coaching staff] should take that [pressure],” he said, adding: “We are selecting them [those players], we are backing them and we think we will win with them.
“I know we are doing the right things to fix South African rugby in the long run,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe in crisis management.
“We should back these young guns and start building a future.”
Despite the demands – especially from they keyboard warriors – for instant success, axing Erasmus now will serve no purpose.
Firstly, who would replace him?
Have we learnt nothing from the departure of coaches like Jake White, Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee?
I want to echo what Erasmus said to the media in New Zealand this week.
“If you think like that [instant success], then you never will build a squad that will be competitive.
“The only thing that six-year contract tells me is not to think about next week, think about the World Cup [next year] and the 2023 World Cup as well.”
That is why I tend to feel – going against every fibre of my rugby soul – we should not look at the results, but at the growth.
I will probably attract heaps of abuse from the keyboard warriors, but perhaps it is time to take emotion out of the equation and let the players grow – from where we give them two, three and four for ratings, till where they are six, seven and eight.
By Jan de Koning
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