Africa | Rassie’s win record blossoming at good time

Cape Town – It
has almost been forgotten in the excitement of the drought-breaking Rugby
Championship title triumph and (so far) smooth lead-up to his first World Cup.

But courtesy
of the 2019 Springboks’ unbeaten record from four matches so far, head coach
Rassie Erasmus’ win percentage rate is starting to shift into increasingly
positive terrain.

only three of the results have been wins (twice against Argentina, once
Australia, plus a draw against world champions New Zealand), the ever-improving
consistency of the Boks has meant Erasmus has shifted from his first-season
record of exactly 50 percent – seven wins, seven reverses from 14 Tests in 2018 – to 55.5 percent: now 10 wins from a total of 18 internationals.

That means
he has leapfrogged, following the Loftus victory over the Pumas last Saturday,
two of the post-isolation coaches to have presided over 10 Tests or more: Harry
Viljoen (53.3) and Rudolf Straeuli (52.17).

Despite the
bumpy ride in his maiden season last year, Erasmus had already ensured by the
end of it he was well ahead of both predecessor Allister Coetzee (44 percent)
and Ian McIntosh (33.33).

Now he is
closing in more quickly than some may think on the Bok coaches with win
percentage records in the sixties: Andre Markgraaff (61.54), Peter de Villiers
(62.50) and Jake White and Heyneke Meyer (both almost 67).

The only
ones still significantly further out of sight are Nick Mallett (71.05 percent)
and Kitch Christie with his legendary 100 percent – 14 wins in as many matches
including the 1995 World Cup spoils.

But the
roster over the next few weeks seems extremely favourable for incumbent Erasmus
to make further notable gains.

His charges
next play Japan, in the last Test before RWC 2019 begins, in Saitama on
September 6: despite the horror of that Brighton defeat to them at the last
World Cup in the only bilateral clash to this point, the Boks will be heavily
tipped to earn comfortable revenge.

If that
happens, Erasmus will move up to a 57.89 percent win record.

Then comes
the group stage of the World Cup, where there must be an excellent chance, even
if they fall to cup-holders the All Blacks in the seismic Pool B opener, of
South Africa then knocking over all of Namibia, Italy and Canada.

If the Boks
do end the pool with three wins from four (and some might even argue that that
is a pessimistic assumption, considering how dramatically the gap has closed
again on the old NZ foe), Erasmus will, in all likelihood, sport a win
percentage of 60.86 upon entry to the RWC knockout phase – 14 wins from 23
Tests in total under his tenure at that point.

the broad “feelgood” vibe around Bok rugby at present, there’d be a case for
saying it’s the least he would deserve …

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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