CHASING THE SUN 2 REVIEW: Ireland loss hit Erasmus hard

rugby01 April 2024 09:00| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Rassie Erasmus © Gallo Images

You would forgive Rassie Erasmus for being a tad upset after the loss to Ireland. Because it was a loss that really hurt.

But did the Bok management’s plans backfire - thanks to a combination of losing Malcolm Marx a week before and the over-emphasis on the Scotland game?

It’s an interesting point to ponder.

For a side that puts in so much detail into the preparation for every game. A side that spends hours analyzing the “soul”of an opponent, the net result against Ireland was a disappointment and a big one at that.

But pause for a moment, and remember this was basically Ireland’s World Cup final.

It may sound over simplistic to say so, but being in the stadium when Zombie was ringing out after the game, seeing the 60 000-odd Irish supporters in full cry and carrying on like they had won the World Cup, you would have thought the tournament was over.

After all, they had beaten the defending World Cup holders and were No 1 in the world.

They were the team in world rugby and it wasn’t surprising seeing so many northern hemisphere pundits rooting for them.

A smidgin of that comes through in episode 2 of Chasing the Sun 2. But it sets the scene for larger and more intense battles.

The minor disruption in losing a kingpin like Malcolm Marx, even if Handre Pollard boosted the side by making a surprise call-up, disrupted the pack. Deon Fourie has been an incredible player all round, but even he wouldn’t compare himself to Marx.

It was a gamble the Bok team took. One that would pay off later, but not in this game.

And then, as some of the players in the episode said, Rassie told them all along the Scotland game was the most important, and if they won that, Ireland wouldn’t be the mountain they all thought they had to climb.

But while some players may have taken this a bit too much to heart, it was clear it wasn’t that way for Erasmus.

Ireland is still a mountain to climb for him, having coached at Munster and watched as the Boks lost their first test to Ireland in 2016 in South Africa before he took over in 2018.

The Boks have not beaten Ireland outside South Africa for a decade now, and despite the heroics that this side have performed in tournaments and on the field, that still remains a blight on an amazing coaching record.

So to think it was just another game for Erasmus was short-sighted. It was more than that.

For a coach who passionately eats and breathes rugby,

And while the Boks were in a brutal battle against Ireland. Something seemed off. In the stadium they looked a bit flat. Erasmus confirmed it in episode 2.

And while the Boks may have dropped their heads and said the defeat was not the end of the world, they were beaten by a side full of confidence, “clever” (Rassie’s words) and with some “big guys in their team” (as Frans Malherbe nonchalantly said).

It was a defeat that stung. A loss that went to the heart of matters.

And one which would set the stage for a bigger performance. A performance of more heart and passion.

And if the players needed reminding the quote of Episode 2 was there for all to see.

“Siya Kolisi is not the biggest thing in South Africa. South Africa is the biggest thing in South Africa” - Rassie Erasmus

It reverberated around the room in silence. It was a Sh*tstorm that the team needed (to quote Duane Vermeulen). It was a call to arms.

And it was a week that would define the Bok campaign

*Chasing the Sun 2 is broadcast every Sunday at 8pm on MNet. Episodes are also available on Catch-up (click banner below)...