Erasmus addresses Springboks' critics amid debate over world's best team

Erasmus addresses Springboks' critics amid debate over world's best team

Rassie Erasmus has reacted to comments made by some observers and pundits questioning the Springboks' current status in the game.

While the Boks sit comfortably atop the world rankings after clinching their second straight Rugby World Cup trophy in France last year (and fourth overall), many pundits feel their lack of consistency inbetween World Cups means they are not truly the best side in the world.

Ireland were the form side heading into the 2023 tournament and Andy Farrell's men, despite being eliminated in the quarter-finals in France, have continued to excel by dominating the start of the 2024 Six Nations.

They secured big victories over France, Wales and Italy to top the table, and although they narrowly succumbed to England at the weekend, a win over Scotland this Saturday will secure back-to-back titles.

The Boks have not played since the 2023 World Cup, but some still believe that it is Ireland who should be considered the No 1 side in the world.

Asked to weigh in on the debate, Erasmus took the high road while also making it clear the discussion was not a major concern for the team.

"We try to stay in our own reality, which is the waarheid (truth), you know, sometimes we can have our own reality - and not also be as honest with ourselves - and to be much better or much worse than we are," said the Springbok head coach.

"If other people think that England is the best or Ireland's the best, it can't make a difference with the way we prepare - the way we select our team, the way we operate - the way we represent this country and the love we have for the Springbok.

"So things like that, you hear it, but it's not something we write down in a notebook and discuss later."

The question will be answered more fully when the Springboks and Ireland go head-to-head in a two-Test series in July.

Former All Blacks weigh in

Still, despite Ireland's consistency and positive record against the Boks in recent years, not everyone is ready to crown them as rugby's kings.

"I still think South Africa are the best team in the world," said former All Black James Parsons when the discussion came up on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

For one, you're only as good as your last game, which was a World Cup final win, and they haven't had an opportunity to present themselves.

"When it matters, they stand up. Yes, their winning percentage through that World Cup cycle is lower than most, but they do probably test out their squad a lot more than other nations.

"Ireland are, as the All Blacks used to be, the most consistent currently in that time between World Cups."

Former Crusaders scrumhalf Bryn Hall was in agreement.

"If you want to look at the stats, 79 per cent is Ireland having the wood on South Africa, but whoever wins the World Cup is the best team in the world," Hall said.

"There's consistency and everything, and there were times when New Zealand were consistently the best team for a long period of time but didn't get the World Cup wins.

"But South Africa have gone back-to-back. Yes, they don't get it right in some parts during that four-year cycle. They rotate or they don't get the results, but when it comes to the push and shove, they're the two-time defending champions.

"For me, it's South Africa, but if you're going to go around percentages and in between World Cups, we've talked about Ireland and how consistent they are.

"The brand of footy they've been playing has been world leading, but coming into the big event they haven't got the job done. I would go South Africa."

READ MORE: Former Blitzbok Werner Kok seeks pastures anew at Ulster