Rassie Erasmus’ return as Bok coach sets SA up for hat-trick of World Cup titles

South Africa Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2023 final match at the Stade de France in Paris, France

Yet more good news for Springbok fans is the confirmation in weekend reports that Rassie Erasmus (pictured) is to return to the role of head coach that has just been vacated by Jacques Nienaber. Picture: Mike Egerton/BackPagePix

Published Nov 6, 2023


Yet more good news for Springboks fans is the confirmation in weekend reports that Rassie Erasmus is to return to the role of head coach that has just been vacated by Jacques Nienaber, who will join Leinster in Dublin.

It has been a week that just keeps giving for the ever-growing army of Bok supporters because, with arguably the finest rugby mind in the world in charge for the next four years, nobody is going to bet against the Boks nailing a hat-trick of Rugby World Cup titles in Australia in 2027.

Nienaber had announced in April that he was to depart the Boks for a new challenge and there was a flurry of speculation as to who would take the reins but few expected it to be Rassie once more.

Erasmus did an ambulance job on the Boks in 2018 after the Boks had imploded under Allister Coetzee and a year later they won the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.

Number four has landed

Title No 4 was landed last week and Rassie is thinking along the lines of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. He knows exactly how to win Test matches for South Africa and he doesn’t want to change the formula.

Next year, there will be minimal changes to the Boks set-up. There is also the loss of attack coach Felix Jones to England and the retirement of veteran No 8 Duane Vermeulen, but otherwise, it is going to be business as usual.

Erasmus would admit that over the past four years, he has evolved as a coach, and, let’s admit it, he has probably done some maturing with regards to how he handles officials. The Boks went from being detested by the referee only a year ago to being a pleasure to ref.

It is fair to say that the Boks were on the right side of Ben O’Keefe in the quarter-final against France, while they also benefited from a crucial refereeing decision at the death of their semi-final against England, and in the final, Handré Pollard nailed all four of the attempts at post given to him by Wayne Barnes.

The way Erasmus played the officials throughout the France World Cup was miles away from his ill-fated video assassination of Australian referee Nic Berry after losing the first Test in the 2021 series against the British & Irish Lions.

That resulted in a long match-day ban from World Rugby.

More recently, Erasmus has been in the headlines for his shrewd tactics during the World Cup, including his famous seven-one bench split for the final against the All Blacks.

Diagnosis Rassie

“Where Rassie is very good is looking at the cause of the problem and saying this is what we need to fix,” former assistant coach Matt Proudfoot told media.

Proudfoot was part of the Bok coaching staff that won in Japan, but he left to be an assistant at England under Eddie Jones.

“He is driven by that process; he never sleeps, looking for that advantage. Rassie has a unique ability to see what is at the core of the matter, what is the one thing that is going to make a difference.”

Assistant coaches Mzwandile Stick and Deon Davids, as well as scrum coach Daan Human, are expected to remain in their roles along with head of athletic performance Andy Edwards.

SA Rugby has not made a formal announcement about Erasmus’s intentions to revert to the role of head coach.