'Pressure is not having a job', says Boks boss Erasmus
Yokohama (Japan) (AFP)
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said Saturday that a frank discussion about real-life hardship back home had fuelled his side's hunger to capture a third Rugby World Cup.
The Springboks battered England 32-12 in a one-sided final in Yokohama, adding to their 1995 and 2007 titles and becoming the first team to lift the Webb Ellis Cup after losing a pool game.
But Erasmus brushed off talk of South Africa being under pressure after that 23-13 defeat by defending champions New Zealand in their opening fixture, noting that the country still has deep social problems to solve, which are more pressing than rugby.
"We talked about what pressure is," revealed Erasmus, who has turned his team's fortunes around since taking over two years ago.
"In South Africa pressure is not having a job. Pressure is one of your close relatives being murdered," added the 47-year-old, set to step aside as coach and continue in his other role as director of rugby.
"There are a lot of problems in South Africa -- which are real pressure. Rugby shouldn't be something that creates pressure, rugby should be something that creates hope."
Flanked by talismanic skipper Siya Kolisi, the first black player to captain the Springboks, Erasmus noted the team had a responsibility as role models to a nation once bitterly divided by decades of apartheid rule.
"We've got the privilege of giving people hope," he said after South Africa made it a perfect three from three in World Cup finals. "Not the burden of giving hope. Hope isn't something you talk about, or tweet about."
- 'Hell of a privilege' -
Erasmus added: "Hope is when you play well and people watch on Saturday at a nice barbeque and feel good after, no matter your political differences, or your religious differences.
"The moment you see it that way, it becomes a hell of a privilege -- and that's how we tackled this whole World Cup campaign."
The Springboks, who were visited in their changing room by Britain's Prince Harry after the game, dominated England in a repeat of the 2007 final, fly-half Handre Pollard kicking 22 points on six penalties and a pair of conversions after late tries from wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe.
"The first All Blacks game was a great test run for us in terms of handling pressure," admitted Erasmus, returning to South Africa's humbling loss.
"We were terrible in that week -- we were tense, the whole thing was a terrible build-up to that game. But it taught us a lot about how to handle the quarter-final, semi-final and the final."
Erasmus paid tribute to Kolisi, who marked his 50th cap with the biggest prize of all, and was hugged by his tearful father after the trophy presentation.
"It's easy to talk about going through hard times and struggling to get opportunities," said Erasmus.
"But then you think about it clearly. At one stage Siya didn't have food or shoes to go to school, and now he's led South Africa to the World Cup -- that should sum up what Siya is."
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