November 2, 2019 / 1:32 PM / 13 days ago

Rugby-Erasmus' South Africa game plan gets thumbs up from ex-Boks

CAPE TOWN, Nov 2 (Reuters) - South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus was lauded by a coterie of former internationals for sticking to his game plan as his team beat England 32-12 to win the World Cup in Japan on Saturday.

The Springboks’ kicking and handling had incensed fans until the final, with scrum half Faf de Klerk in the firing line for kicking away possession and fullback Willie le Roux criticised for poor handling and dropping high balls.

But ex-internationals, analysing the match on television, said Erasmus was vindicated by the victory in Saturday’s final at Yokohama and praised him for ignoring the criticism.

“It doesn’t matter what way we played, because we won this game,” said Jean de Villiers, who captained the South Africa team that finished third at the last World Cup in 2015.

“You formulate plans that you know will be good enough to win games and win trophies and they did that.”

Winger Akona Ndungane, who was in the last South Africa side to win the World Cup in 2007 when they also triumphed against England, said: “He (Erasmus) had a plan and he stuck with it from the start of the tournament up until the end.

“The media attacked the players for kicking too much and said the game plan was boring. No one will now remember how many box kicks Faf did or many knock ons Willie did.”

Former Bok flyhalf Butch James added: “It was a low risk game plan and we tried to outmuscle the opposition.

“Rassie stuck to his guns, even when he was taking a lot of flak for it. The players were taking flak but they ignore the criticism and put on a performance like that today,” he said.

Famed halfback Naas Botha said the victory was set up by the powerful tight five. “The way they played today they really laid a platform for South Africa to excel from there. It was a team effort and that’s what you want.” (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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