Rassie Erasmus Springboks

Rassie Erasmus, SA director of rugby. Photo: SA Rugby website.

Rassie drops MASSIVE hint about Springboks’ bomb squad!

Brace yourselves! Rassie Erasmus has hinted that the Springboks could deploy a 7-1 split on the bench for the Test against Ireland.

Rassie Erasmus Springboks

Rassie Erasmus, SA director of rugby. Photo: SA Rugby website.

On the eve of the World Cup, the Springboks notably named seven forwards on their bench in a 7-1 split for the game against the All Blacks, which gave new meaning to the team’s bomb squad strength.

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Although this bench configuration only came into effect after a late injury to Willie le Roux, it caused a big debate in some rugby circles, with former Scotland rugby coach Matt Williams suggesting South Africa were “abusing the bench” and jeopardising player safety.

The Springboks did receive support from various other people, though, while the team made it clear that they were not fazed by the stir it caused in the rugby world.

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With the World Cup now under way, the Boks have come away with wins over Scotland and Romania without considering a 7-1 split again, but ahead of this Saturday’s Test against Ireland, Rassie Erasmus has hinted that this could be a consideration.

It it a serious option, or a perhaps a bit of mind games? Only time will tell, but when quizzed about whether there could be surprises in their team selection this week – with some suggesting that Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber could opt for only one or even no backline replacements on the bench – Erasmus said: “I don’t think we can go with an 8-0 split, but a seven-one split is definitely an option.

“I think there is a lot of teams doing really innovative things. We saw a lineout this weekend, I think it was Portugal, a fantastic old-school lineout. I think sometimes when you do things you did many years back, people see it as innovation but it’s just stuff that you remembered that worked way back. Obviously the 7/1, a couple of years ago the 6/2 was very new to people, a lot of teams are now doing 6/2.

“If you go 7/1, you have to have players like Kwagga Smith who is used to playing 7s or able to play against Fiji and guys in one-and-one situations. But then again, you’ve got Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray, or I’m not sure which nine will play, that can exploit you when they get it in the air and every area of the game.

“But yes, I think the other thing we can do this is really try and beat Ireland at what they do really well which is a beautiful attacking game, with a solid defensive system and technically they’re a really sound team. I don’t think there are any weird tactics that will help us with this game.”

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With the Ireland and the Springboks being tipped as the favourites in the pool to advance to the quarter-finals, Erasmus said the result of this match could have big implications for either side going into their final pool match.

“Scotland was a slippery game for us, and we knew it would be close,” said Erasmus.

“This game is very important for both teams. If things don’t go well for us, it makes the match against Tonga extremely important, and on the reverse side, if it doesn’t go well for Ireland then it makes their match against Scotland vital. So, we have to improve in every game we play.”

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The Springboks will return to the training field on Tuesday to begin their preparations for the match.

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Despite the Springboks’ substitute strategy becoming a big talking point outside of the team camp just before the World Cup began, Eramus addressed this and said they had not been concerned by the reaction.

“We have been in a bit of a bubble, because we are focusing on what we are trying to do and how we can be successful at the World Cup. We can’t really care about how other teams are doing it and what their opinions are. We are just staying within the regulations and the laws of the game.

“So for us, it’s about what’s best for our team, what works for us and that certainly won’t be the same from one weekend to the next. We don’t really care about what other teams say about it. It’s about what’s best for South Africa and the Springboks.”

“I really didn’t pay much attention to [the reaction]. If it was something that we did wrong, that would have been something that bothered me. We follow all the laws and protocols.

“When I was playing, we only had two reserves. Then it became 22 and then 23 with a full front row [on the bench]. I know the laws, protocols and regulations really well. If you coach at this level, and work with coaches at this level, you know the laws of the game.

“I guess what I am trying to say, not being arrogant, is that it wouldn’t help us taking note of all of the hoo-ha, because we didn’t do anything wrong. I am not surprised, it’s new and people like to chat about that, but not really bothered.”

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