South Africa were crowned the 2023 RWC winners after a tight hard fought contest with New Zealand on a 12-11 score line. This win was based on a never say die attitude in defence and a willingness to never bend in attack with a game plan that certainly won’t win any beauty awards but one thing you’ll get from any Rassie Erasmus team is effort and defiance.
Himself and Jacques Nienabar have been together for a long time coaching in SA at club and provincial level in SA before taking an opportunity to come up to Munster and they spent 18 months with Munster before returning to SA to take on the national job, Erasmus as Director of Rugby and Mr Nienaber as head coach.
Both men stuck to that task and turned the ship around in an extremely short space of time to help them win the 2019 RWC.
Fast forward 4 years, in that time you have had a B&I Lions tour in 2021 which was of course played during an extremely tough period worldwide due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the restrictions on travel that continued for a period beyond the initial 12 months.
That tour was a mess and we now know the three test matches were only a whisker away from being chalked off due to a number of constraints on both squads with large numbers of each party being ruled out due to covid restrictions, Since then though things have returned to normal.
SA have focused on retaining this trophy for the past 2 years since the series win of 2021 vs the Lions. They have shown you can win a number of ways and be successful. They have also re invented the way the bench can be made up although I still feel a 5/3 split will continue to be the norm, a few sides including Munster and even Leinster when tactics dictated went 6/2 on their match day bench selections.
There are of course a couple of Irish links with this win as well as in 2019 with Felix Jones as part of the coaching team but you also have a Kerry man, Partick O Sullivan who was a member of the Springbok technical staff. He played rugby with Killarney and Crescent RFC.
Both men will be able to toast a job well done and will enjoy well earned time off before Jones begins a new position with England. It will be interesting who might snap up the talents of Patrick O Sullivan.
South Africa can enjoy this win, the final wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it was a game that kept you invested for 80 minutes. Congratulations to South Africa on their record 4th RWC win. They will now look to the rest of the URC season as well as domestic competitions in SA in 2024.