Rassie Erasmus, winning program for South African rugby

In just two seasons, the coach handed the Boks up. They will face England in the final for a third world title, after those of 1995 and 2007.

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Rassie Erasmus in Yokohama on October 27th.
Rassie Erasmus in Yokohama on October 27th. Mark Baker / AP

This is perhaps the most beautiful action of the match. A drop just in front of the posts … and just before the kickoff. Work of Johan "Rassie" Erasmus, open white shirt, pants suit. The following ? Much less fun, on the Yokohama lawn, Sunday, October 27: a laborious semifinal, not to say very boring, and a cheat victory of South Africa over the Welsh (19-16).

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But a victory anyway, which is enough for the return of these "Springboks" in the foreground. "We won a certain respect, recognizes their coach, Erasmus, in office for just two seasons. But there is still halfway to go. " Understand: win the final Saturday, November 2, against England. The occasion of a third world title, after those of 1995 and 2007.

Where Eddie Jones has been fighting for four years with England, where Warren Gatland comes out of the Welsh for twelve years, the South African coach has been in office since March 2018. It's late to prepare for a World Cup. Even more than Jacques Brunel with the Blues.

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Except that for these "Boks" there, that was enough. As if all had seized in time the urgency to rebuild a collective and stick to it. As if all had wanted to forget the close time of Allister Coetzee (2016-2018), and this historic defeat in Italy, and this other (57-0) in New Zealand …

" We worked very hard, today considers the third line Siya Kolisi. Erasmus made him not only a captain, but a post-apartheid symbol: the first black captain of the national team.

"He brought us back to earth"

The Erasmus program? "It has been clear, placing the Springboks above all, says Kolisi. Previously most of us, we were lathered on social networks, he brought us down to earth. "

"In the last two years, we have made tremendous progress, many new ones have arrived," recalls Opener Handle Pollard (future rookie of Montpellier), four penalties and a transformation registered Sunday.

Shortly before the World Cup in September, a photo still circulated on the Internet. That of South African players bare-chested and extra-muscular muscles. "We just took off the jerseys because it was very hot. It amused the whole group because we could take the pose »says hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi.

Obviously, the cliché was talking, reviving the old speculations on the medication in force among the Boks to achieve their mass gain.

Until the caricature, the photography reminds the essence of this team: bet on the game of fronts and on their big arms. And even more in the absence of the winger Cheslin Kolbe, package against the Welsh, because injured ankle.

Erasmus, 47, coached the Irish team from Munster shortly before taking office. But he knows by heart this game to the South African, for having himself practiced in the national team (1997-2001), time to win a Tri-Nations against New Zealand and Australia.

This competition now also includes Argentina, and the coach won it again three months ago. This was probably part of "Half way" until the final of the World Cup.


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