TOKYO – Playing a warm-up fixture against Japan had been deliberate in order to try and dampen down any talk of the Brighton Miracle if the Springboks met the tournament hosts during the World Cup, South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said on Monday.
South Africa comfortably accounted for the Brave Blossoms 41-7 in Kumagaya on Sept. 6 but the pre-match buildup had been dominated by Japan’s shock 34-32 victory over the Springboks in Brighton at the 2015 World Cup.
“In all honesty, the reason for that warm-up game was to erase the Brighton game, so that if we do play them in play-off games, that game hopefully doesn’t get mentioned again,” Erasmus told reporters ahead of their quarter-final on Sunday.
“It’s 1-1, and now we go into a quarter-final game against a really tough team. That (Brighton) game is in the past now.”
Erasmus also acknowledged that their pre-tournament clash would have absolutely no bearing on how both sides played at Tokyo Stadium on Sunday.
Japan were error prone in the humid conditions and did not stretch the defence as much as they have other sides in the World Cup, while South Africa chose to play without the ball for long stretches to work on their defence and counter-attack.
“I must say that in that warm-up game, there was no pressure,” Erasmus said. “We definitely won’t be able to go with the same plan that we went into the warm-up game with (and) we will definitely have to come up with a totally new plan.
“It will probably be something where we will have to match their pace and speed, and try to keep up with the way they play the game.”
The former Springboks loose forward added that he had been impressed with the way Japan was developing and adapting for each game at the World Cup, while players like scrumhalf Yutaka Nagare were becoming the standouts of the tournament.
“Their number nine (Nagare) is probably the guy who gets their game going,” Erasmus said. “He is probably the guy who cleans, at the World Cup, the fastest at the breakdown.
“They are such a well-balanced team that it is difficult to single out one specific guy.
“You can see they are aligned in their gameplan. So, as a unit, they are just really a formidable team.”