South Africa had the Bomb Squad; England blew up. It was a tactical triumph for the Springboks coach, Rassie Erasmus, who, two years ago, was on his way from Munster to run the disintegrating professional game in South Africa only to find when he arrived home that the national side demanded his immediate attention. But the Springboks’ triumph was also based on his belief that sport is equally about the physical and the mental.
South Africa owed their World Cup success not only to the aggression that burned in all their players, even those rather smaller than the forwards who seem as wide as they are tall, such as Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe, but their ability to sustain the onslaught for 80 minutes. The approach saw off Japan, Wales – a side that prides itself on its physicality – and now England. At no point in those matches were the Springboks behind.
Erasmus has, in four games, including the three in the knockout stage, split his bench (known as the Bomb Squad) between six forwards and two backs, rather than the conventional five and three. It gave him an alternative tight five, and with Bongi Mbonambi and Lood de Jager barely lasting beyond the opening quarter against England, his decision was seen to be vindicated.
Rassie Erasmus the brains behind South Africa’s Bomb Squad | Paul Rees https://t.co/WL4vbE5pGm
— The Guardian (@guardian) November 2, 2019