South Africa have banished memories of a disastrous 2016 and are back on track to restore their tattered reputation, coach Allister Coetzee said after they beat France for a second successive week to secure victory in the three-test series.
The Springboks plummeted down the rankings last year after losing eight of the 12 internationals in what was their worst year in rugby.
“It’s done already, chapter closed, book closed. We learnt valuable lessons and I’ve said it numerous times since,” he said after Saturday’s 37-15 triumph at the King’s Park Rugby Stadium.
It followed their 37-14 win in Pretoria last weekend in the Boks’ first outing since their November tour of Europe where they lost to England, Italy and Wales.
Coetzee rated Saturday’s result as the best win of his tenure, which is now 14-match old.
“Our planning has been spot on this year, unlike 2016. We have had time to prepare, we’ve had camps, we had planning sessions, meetings, strengthened the management team, I could go on,” he said.
“I chose players who had shown form in Super Rugby, we had conferences and workshops, we had collaboration (with the Super Rugby franchises); we looked at our conditioning because when the Crusaders coach (Scott Robertson) said we were not in top condition we all said ‘yes, listen to that man, he is right’.
“I think things are really falling into place for us now but we haven’t achieved anything yet,” the 54-year-old said.
“This is a young Springbok team. But if we continue building, we will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the future.”
South Africa play a third test against the French at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday before the annual Rugby Championship against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. In November they play internationals in France, Ireland and Italy.
“Nine months ago we were all sitting here with a lot of pain at the end of a painful experience but it is also nice to be able to witness a Bok team putting in an outstanding performance,” Coetzee said.
“It’s not perfect yet, we still have lot of work to do and we are still following a process. But in all aspects of the game we can be proud; our set pieces, the way we attacked and particularly for me, the way we defended.” (Reuters)