After a great emotional high to which there was a big build up beforehand, like winning the world cup or getting married, you often find yourself in somewhat of a vacuum, an emptiness that is difficult to put in words. For South Africa after winning the Rugby World Cup in 2019, it is no different.
After the 2015 Rugby World Cup tournament South Africa took some time before a new coach was appointed. After two years the Springboks were going nowhere scoring record defeats and Rassie Erasmus was appointed as Springbok coach a mere 18 months before the 2019 world cup tournament.
A daunting task
A daunting task if you’d ask me, to take a team that’s on its knees and turn them around in such a short space of time to win the biggest rugby match any player can hope to play.
For the past couple of months there was a huge build-up and many newspaper articles and TV programs speculating and covering every aspect of South Africa’s participation in this huge event. And now we’ve won the tournament and our team brought the cup home with victory parades in almost every major city.
So, what’s next?
So after all the build-up and excitement have subsided, what now? We hear that the coach has resigned as well as a number of players. Well I can understand that, for
what is there to still achieve once you’ve lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy?
Perhaps you can make a pretty penny at some wealthy overseas club before you retire from the game all together.
But for now, there will be a void of no rugby for a month or two, three and life will return to normal, whatever that may be.
A new momentum
And then, a new momentum will start to take place where people will speculate about who the next coach will be and which names in the hat will be picked for the 2020 squad. Cheslin Kolbe was too small to be selected by the previous coach and this year he became a world cup star. Same player but viewed differently by a different coach.
# A new position
The difficult part of the journey is where we are right now. Two weeks ago I wrote that nobody can remain at the top forever and it is easier to challenge the champion than for the champion to remain at the top. Anyone who challenges the champion has nothing to lose except to remain in the second position.
Being number one
Going into the final as the underdogs the pressure to win was not really on us. But now we are the champions and ranked number one in the world.
Now everybody expects the Springboks to win
and if you do not win, you don’t finish second, you lose.
The All Blacks did well
Last time I mentioned that the All Blacks did exceptionally well to win the Rugby World Cup in two consecutive tournaments, 2011 & 2015, under two different coaches. This means that the All Blacks succession plan from Graham Henry to Steve Hansen was so well executed that they could successfully defend their title in 2015. Certainly much better than Manchester United Soccer club’s hand down from Sir Alex Ferguson to David Moyes.
And SA’s succession plan?
Therefore we eagerly await the appointment of the new Springbok coach. Fortunately Rassie Erasmus stays on as Director of SA Rugby which may help to smooth out the transition, and may politics be kept at bay.
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