Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Rugby World Cup final: Rassie Erasmus says Springboks won't change tactics for England

Springboks criticised for gameplan after dire semi-final win over Wales last week

South Africa players celebrate after their 19-16 Rugby World Cup semi-final win over Wales. AFP
South Africa players celebrate after their 19-16 Rugby World Cup semi-final win over Wales. AFP

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus has vowed to stick with the tactics that have carried the Springboks all the way to the Rugby World Cup final.

The Boks were criticised after their 19-16 semi-final win over Wales for a gameplan based largely around kicking for territory and an over-reliance on a huge pack of forwards to stifle the life out of the match.

Cheslin Kolbe has been one of the highlights of the tournament but the winger was ruled out of the win over Wales through injury, while Makazole Mapimpi has also shown flashes of excitement on occasion.

Handre Pollard's penalty in the dying minutes was all that separated the two teams at the end of an uninspiring 80 minutes in Yokohama, with South Africa's tactics making for a less-than-spectacular spectacle for fans.

Erasmus, though, was adamant that the Springboks would not change their approach when they face England in Saturday's showpiece.

"If one understands where we are coming from, being number sixth, seventh, eighth in the world, we've got certain challenges," Erasmus said Tuesday.

"One of them was always to redeem ourselves and become a power again in world rugby and try to get to number one or two.

"To do that, you've got to have some building blocks in place and we've followed a certain route and play according to stats and the way the game is currently being refereed, and what gives you short-term results on the scoreboard."

Erasmus added: "We certainly accept that there are some things in our game we have to improve and we take it on the chin and keep on improving that.

"We accept criticism but we are also happy to be in a position to compete in the World Cup final, which is where we ultimately want to be."

Erasmus said he had a full squad to choose from for Saturday's final, with Kolbe having recovered from the ankle knock that ruled him out of the semi-final that saw Sbu Nkosi take his place on the wing.

"We'll pretty much go with more or less the same team. We believe that's the way we can get best out of the team," he said.

"It is a bit horses for courses, but we also believe it's also our most fit in-form, best available and best combination team."

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South Africa beat Wales 19-16

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Erasmus insisted there were no mind games in revealing a potentially little-changed Matchday 23.

"No, no bluffing!" the former Munster coach said. "It's probably exactly the same 23, with Cheslin Kolbe being one of the guys who comes into the Matchday 23."

As for preparation and tactics, Erasmus said that the team would only train twice, for a maximum of 160 minutes.

"There's not a hell of a lot you can change in your tactics in two training sessions on a six-day turnaround. So you can expect pretty much the same from us on Saturday."

Updated: October 29, 2019 11:30 AM

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