JOHANNESBURG. – Just to paint some perspective into the immediate challenge facing Rassie Erasmus and his Springboks, we should look back at where the South Africa national rugby team was on the corresponding Monday of 2017. Like now, it was the day that the Boks returned from Argentina.
Unlike then, however, it was in a bouyant mood that they arrived home – with a posse of journalists waiting for coach Allister Coetzee at Cape Town International Airport and everyone falling all over themselves in the clamour to be positive about a team that up to that point was unbeaten in the year.
Coetzee was in a good space.
His team was in a good space.
They had buried any potential away bogey against the Pumas by winning 41-23 in Salta, the week before that they had beaten the same opponents comfortably enough in Port Elizabeth.
The series that preceded the Rugby Championship against France was whitewashed, with all the games being won by a good margin.
That it is a different coach who is leading the Boks home on this current Monday is largely because the air of positivity of 12 months ago was quickly dissipated by what happened soon after that. In particular, a 57-0 defeat to the All Blacks in Albany that completely changed the scene. It was that day that the death-knell to any chances of Coetzee continuing into 2018, any chance of the positive momentum being retained, was blown into smithereens.
Next Boks fixtures: 8 September v Australia – Brisbane: 15 September v New Zealand – Wellington