Erasmus to keep an eye on PRO14 from the World Cup in Japan

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus.
Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has a lot on his mind as he plots a course for his team at Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

But even so‚ he took some time out of his schedule to say that the PRO14 tournament‚ which starts in Bloemfontein on Friday night‚ was ‘one of the toughest’ competitions he had coached in.

The Cheetahs host last season’s losing finalists the Glasgow Warriors in the 2019/20 opener at Free State Stadium on Friday night.

South Africa’s other participants‚ the Southern Kings, battle the Cardiff Blues in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The men from Bloemfontein have not yet beaten the Warriors since they joined the competition‚ with the Glaswegians winning all four previous clashes between the sides.

The Kings have lost both their previous encounters against the Blues.

Erasmus knows the challenges of the PRO14 well as he was in charge of Munster during the 2016/17 season where he led the Irish side to a final appearance after topping the group with 19 victories in the regular season.

“One thing that people underestimate about PRO14 rugby is that it is one of the toughest competitions‚ certainly one of the toughest that I have coached in‚” Erasmus said.

“It compares on all levels to Super Rugby because it is physical‚ it is tactical‚ and you are faced with different styles every weekend. You have to contend with different travel times‚ different weather and different pitches – sometimes even 4G pitches.

“So it is such an adaptation and you have to analyse every single week. It is not like Super Rugby where you come up against teams that generally play a similar style of rugby.”

Erasmus said the competition is a challenge for coaches because of the contrasting styles and cultures from the different nations.

“It is not always a high-pace X-factor thing‚ it is sometimes a Glasgow ball-in-hand style‚ then Ulster are very different‚ and Leinster are very different in another way. You have to do a lot of analysis and it is interesting and challenging.

“And that’s where players really grow and take ownership of the game. Which eventually makes them better players.”