South Africa’s Head Coach Rassie Erasmus was a relieved man after his team’s 41-7 victory over Rugby World Cup 2019 hosts Japan at the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium last weekend, and said he now believes his team are “on the right track”.
The Springboks’ seven try to one victory completed the team’s pre-Rugby World Cup preparations and restored some historic order in the wake of Japan’s famous 34-32 victory at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“There are some tired players in the change room and some tired bodies but we haven’t got a lot of injuries and it has put us on the right track for the Rugby World Cup,” said former Munster Rugby Head Coach Erasmus.
“Japan pushed us hard right to the end. At halftime we were leading 14-0 or 22-0 or something but they scored that try after Frans Steyn had that pass go loose and that gave them hope. They are a dangerous team and really challenged us.
“I really believe that if we progress from our pool there’s a chance we may meet them again. But the game went pretty much as we wanted it to. We put up a lot of contestable kicks because they have not faced that much and we wanted to see how they handled that.”
Erasmus admitted to being both happy and relieved with the result:
“We scored four of our seven tries from contestable kick turnover so we’re happy how that turned out. Having said that, I think the scoreboard was flattering to us.”
The South African spoke of how much his team enjoyed their Japanese experience, admitting:
“I haven’t experienced the way the crowd respected the game – the way they applauded good play from both sides and when the replacements came on and were quiet for the kickers – it’s not something we’ve experienced before.”
When speaking of Japan’s famous defeat of South Africa at the 2015 World Cup, Erasmus said:
“I don’t get upset if they ask us about 2015; Japan should be proud of that result but it’s why we wanted to win this match and now we hopefully we see them in the play offs if we progress.”
South Africa will begin their Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign with a game against tournament favourites New Zealand on Saturday, 21st October.
The Pool B game from Yokohama City will be live on eir sport and will kick off at 10.45am Irish time.