'I think we are in with a chance‚' says Bok coach Erasmus ahead of final against England

SA Rugby Director of Rugby and head coach Rassie Erasmus.
SA Rugby Director of Rugby and head coach Rassie Erasmus.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus almost bristled when told that Wales coach Warren Gatland had suggested his team had better introduce some enterprise into their play if they are going to win the Rugby World Cup final against England.

The Boks reached the final by beating Wales 19-16 in the semifinal on Sunday.

“It is great that he thinks we can go all the way.

"We are a team that has been together for 24‚ 25 Tests.

"We have played teams with different styles. We are in still in a phase when we suddenly have to adapt.

“He’s right there are areas we can improve but we have given ourselves a chance.

"We’ve played England four times over the last 18 months and it is two-all. We are accustomed to the way they play. They are obviously much better than the last time we played them.

“You can see that from the way they dismantled New Zealand.

"But I think we are in with a chance. We have a six-day turn around. I’m not 100 percent sure whether the Rugby World Cup final will be won by a very expansive game plan. It might be. I might be wrong. But we’ll go and grind it out‚” said Erasmus.

Earlier Gatland noted the physicality with which the Boks set about their task but added the South Africans may need to be a bit more expansive to topple Eddie Jones’s team.

“They have the physicality to match England‚" he said.

"England were outstanding (when they beat New Zealand).

“They may have to be a bit more expansive. They played a simple game plan with lots of box kicking. It was very effective. For them it was about making the final.”

Gatland did‚ however‚ raise the spectre of teams peaking a week too soon at big tournaments.

“We’ve seen in previous Rugby World Cups that teams play really well in the semifinals but they don’t always turn up for the final. It should be a good final.”

Erasmus put it down to “a little bit of experience” after his team was able to snap a four-match losing streak to Wales.

The Boks‚ who last beat Wales in the quarterfinal of the last Rugby World Cup‚ won again when it really mattered by extinguishing the Red Dragons’ fire on Sunday.

“We also learnt lessons from the matches we played against them‚ especially the one in Washington last year where they came back (to win it at the death)‚” said Erasmus about his first game in charge of the Boks.

For that match he opted to rest key players‚ while other key players were absent when the Boks lost to Wales in Cardiff last year.

“We also analysed them in the Six Nations.

"They learnt how to strangle the life out of the opposition. Today we expected exactly that. And that is what we received.

"We had to match that. That probably wasn’t the greatest spectacle to watch. The boys stuck to their guns and adapted to that‚” said the coach.