World Cup-winning Springbok Brendan Venter has weighed in on the All Blacks‘ lost ‘aura’ following their up-and-down 2018 campaign.
In a column for New Zealand outlet Stuff, Venter touched on the All Blacks’ performance during their November tour and highlighted the importance of continuity in the coaches box.
“We cannot ignore the way they [the All Blacks] played in their two defeats and close shaves,” he writes. “It’s the way they played and not the results that will be of concern to the coaches.”
“The All Blacks will be aiming to ensure they regain their aura because there is no doubt it has been lost.”
“If the All Blacks change coaches after the 2019 World Cup, by parting ways with Hansen, a tried-and-tested individual like [Ireland head coach Joe] Schmidt should come in, or even current All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster could assume the top post. If Foster takes the helm, it would allow for continuity.
“Continuity in terms of coaching and playing personnel is a precious commodity. Drawing from my time with Saracens, the team effectively had 80 per cent of their staff stay the same over the last 10 years and it looks like they will reach their 10th consecutive English Premiership semi-final this season, which will be unprecedented.”
Venter went on to detail how a lack of continuity has hurt the Springboks – the side with whom he hoisted the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
“First and foremost, the All Blacks have been the frontrunners in world rugby for the last 10 years owing to their coaching continuity and succession planning,” he continues. “Steve Hansen took over as head coach in 2012, having served as Graham Henry’s assistant.
“Rassie Erasmus has completed his first year in charge of the [Springboks] side after SA Rugby parted ways with Allister Coetzee after two years in the hotseat.
“Did the Springboks improve on last year’s performance or did the win over the All Blacks in Wellington engender false hope? Moreover, were transformation targets achieved?
“To find the answers we have to look at stats, which are factual and non-emotional. Erasmus lost seven matches this year and last year Coetzee only lost four.
“From a purely numbers point of view, it’s undeniable that South Africa failed to make progress under Erasmus this season. As a matter of fact, they were worse off this year.
“However, because they beat the All Blacks away from home, the cracks were painted over. Statistically speaking, Erasmus performed substantially worse in his first season than Coetzee did in his second season.”
Venter then defends Erasmus’ position and insisted he should be given time, support and room to grow with the team.
South Africa and the All Blacks will meet at least once at the Rugby World Cup next year, with both sides in Pool B of the showpiece competition.
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