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Erasmus happy with ‘tactical’ approach from SA Super Rugby franchises

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says local franchises have quickly gone into ‘Test’ rugby mode as opposed to last season where there was a lot of running rugby.

FILE: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus . Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - SA Rugby director of rugby and Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says he has been pleased with the tactical approach from the South African Super Rugby franchises in the opening stages of this year’s campaign.

Erasmus held a media briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday in which he detailed plans for the Rugby World Cup in Japan later on in the year, the Bok alignment camps, the new contracting system SA Rugby will be implementing and the progress of the Super Rugby teams.

Erasmus says that the local franchises have quickly gone into ‘Test’ rugby mode as opposed to last season where there was a lot of running rugby.

“There has definitely been a different shift this year, I think last year we saw a lot of running rugby from the franchises but this year it feels like some of the guys are already in the Test match mode where they are trying to apply a lot of pressure through territory and tactical game, which for a ationaln coach is something positive.”

The Bulls, with Bok flyhalf Handré Pollard at the helm, have particularly caught Erasmus’s attention in the three rounds so far.

“I thought how the Bulls handled things in round one and three against the Stormers and the Lions was impressive; they applied great pressure by using the right tactics and the Lions did very well against the Jaguares away from home in their first game. The Sharks were really clinical in the first two games and I thought the Stormers got it right in their last game. All the sides are really looking to squeeze results out of each other tactically which is really pleasing to see.”

Erasmus’s assistant and defence coach Jacques Nienaber have been visiting the different franchises in the past few weeks in a bid to share some of the expectations of the Springboks with the franchise coaches and players. Erasmus also pointed out that the common denominator of all the World Cup winning nations was their superior tactical acumen and a deadly boot of their flyhalves.

“If you look at the World Cup winning sides, they always had a great kicker and you can go back to 1995 to Joel Stransky’s drop goal, 1999 Stephen Larkham’s drop goal, Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal in 2003 to Stephen Donald’s penalties against France in 2011. The World Cup has never been won by a team scoring eight tries, it has always been high pressure, a penalty here and a drop goal there.”

The Springboks will open up their Rugby World Cup campaign against the defending champions the All Blacks on Saturday, 21 September, at the Yokohama International Stadium.