As we reflect on the Springbok triumph of 1995, it is a curious fact from the era of professional rugby that the travels of the British and Irish Lions to South Africa correlate with the Springboks as world champions, and it is also a fact that in every The Boks have a different coach than the one who won the World Cup two years earlier. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.
In 1996, poor health saw Kitch Christie turn the reins over to Andre Markgraaff, who after being dishonored when a racist comment was released resigned and was succeeded by the inexperienced Carel du Plessis for the ’97 series against the Lions Carel should never have been named and the momentum generated by the 1995 World Cup victory was lost and the Boks lost a series to a fairly average Lions team.
It was a different story when the Lions returned in 2009. The team Jake White had built to win the 2007 World Cup was preserved by incoming coach Peter de Villiers, and while there was an indifferent success for the Boks in 2008, 2009 was one one of the best years in Bok history, with the Boks winning the Tri-Nations, including three consecutive wins over the All Blacks, and the series against a very strong Lions team.
Next year, the Lions are slated to return once again and they will find Springbok rugby in rude health thanks to the legacy of Rassie Erasmus. He carefully rebuilt and transformed the Springboks after a few years of scarcity.
The structures this perfectionist has established should ensure that the Boks maintain the excellence they displayed in Japan, particularly with Erasmus ensuring continuity by naming his assistant last year, Jacques. Nienaber, as his successor. As head coach.
When White took over the Boks after the confusion of the 2003 World Cup, he made the outrageous promise to the players that they would win the World Cup four years later.
The fulfillment of that promise, frankly, was due to the relentless perseverance of the coach, some would say stubbornness of rank: Jake gathered a core of players for his first game in charge and stayed with them through thick and thin, and there was plenty of the latter. Nine of the players White chose for his first game in charge in 2004 started in the World Cup final in Paris.
Jake immediately won the Tri-Nations in 2004; 2005 was a mediocre year and then 2006 was a disaster. The Boks lost to France, Ireland, and England, twice against Australia including the 49-0 humiliation in Brisbane and twice against New Zealand. And twice the coach’s neck was on the line that year.
He was first saved when the Boks beat the All Blacks 21-20 in Rustenburg he would have been fired if they had lost and then later in the year after White had been called back to South Africa to argue with his employers. At Saru, when the Boks defeated England in their second test against them.
The same Bok lineup that had been so poor in 2006 flourished in France the following year, and Jake White last laughed. He had stuck to his weapons and finally reaped the most beautiful of dividends. And 12 members of the team that won the final against England in Paris started the second Test that secured the series against the Lions two years later at Loftus Versfeld.
In 1995, Rassie was a 22-year-old flanker playing for Free State, the team he would coach in 2005 for his first Currie Cup title since 1976. It was just his second year as a coach after retiring as a player in 2003 and his first crack in the Currie Cup. It was only a matter of time before he trained the Boks.
In addition to the legacy of a happy and successful team, Rassie’s commitment to transforming the Springbok side is highly recommended. In the Boks 2015 World Cup semi-final loss to the All Blacks, Heyneke Meyer started with three black players and had one among his substitutes. In last year’s final, Rassie doubled that number on both counts, including, of course, our first black captain.
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