Rassie Erasmus to stand down as South Africa head coach after World Cup final against England

Clash in Japan on Saturday will be 47-year-old's final match in charge of Springboks, but he will continue in role as director of rugby

South Africa's head coach Rassie Erasmus (C) takes part in a training session at Arcs Urayasu Park in Urayasu on October 29, 2019, ahead of their Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final against England. / AFP / Anne-Christine POUJOULAT
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Rassie Erasmus has announced that he will step down as South Africa head coach after Saturday's World Cup final against England.

Erasmus has held the post since early 2018 while also acting as the nation's director of rugby, a role he will continue to perform post Japan.

It was speculated that the 47-year-old former Springbok might retain the coaching reins for the Lions tour in two years' time, but current defence coach Jacques Nienaber is likely to be his successor.

"For me, it's an emotional one in the sense that I didn't think 25 Test matches will go that quickly," Erasmus said. "The moment you get hands-on with the Springboks again, the adrenaline starts pumping and you get back into the mould and it's a totally different feeling.

"It's wonderful to be here. It's sad that there are only three days left and then it's all over.

"But I will be heavily involved, hopefully, still after this – whatever way we are going to go with the head coach."

Erasmus admits he is convert to the idea that rugby can be a unifying force for South Africa as he targets the nation's third world title by defeating Eddie Jones' favourites at International Stadium Yokohama.

"I must say, me being involved again gives me such hope for what rugby can do for the country," he said.

"I was one of those guys three years ago who said 'let's just play boys, let's just play. Stop talking about this hope thing that everybody's talking about. Rugby is rugby so let's just play'.

"But I've totally changed my mind. I believe if we play the right way and with passion which people can see, it just helps people forget about their problems and agree with things."

Star wing Cheslin Kolbe replaces Sbu Nkosi on the right wing after recovering from the ankle injury that forced him to miss the 19-16 last-four victory over Wales in the only change to the starting XV.

The Springboks have remained true to form by naming a six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench, signalling their intent to target England upfront.

"Obviously, we were a bit nervous when we lost Cheslin for the semi-final," Erasmus said. "Cheslin is world-class. He's shown that whenever he has played for us, no matter if he slotted in at 15 or played wing.

"Everybody knows that he's got that X-factor and against England, with the way they defend, that's something we will definitely need."