Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi, said in an interview that the team's goal was to remain number one on the world rankings for as long as possible. Saturday's victory over Argentina sent a warning to all opposition that the Springboks are not just here to maintain their no.1 ranking but to dominate the rugby world for years to come.
After claiming the Lions series, Jacques Nienaber (Springbok Head Coach) made a number of changes to his match day 23, choosing to field a team that many would consider closer to an SA 'A' outfit to face Argentina. One could have forgiven the Boks had they stumbled through the match and obtained and ugly victory or even if they slumped to a defeat against a Los Pumas team that, in 2020, defeated the All Blacks and drew twice with Australia. The World Champions decided however, to remind the world of the class and insane depth that South Africa hold by defeating an almost full strength Argentine team 32-12. Coincidentally, the exact same score as the 2019 World Cup final. The Springboks did something similar at the start of the 2019 Rugby Championship when they sent a group of players over to New Zealand to prepare for the second round against the All Blacks while leaving a so called "B team" behind to play Australia. A match which they went on to win 35-17.
Nienaber and Erasmus seem intent on not only building a team of 23, but rather a squad where players are interchangeable and offer the same value as the person they are replacing. An extended 'Bomb Squad', if you will. Cobus Reinach's performance over the last two tests is a perfect example of this. In the first two tests against the Lions the coaches preferred to start Faf de Klerk and have Herschel Jantjies come off the bench to inject pace into game. This meant that Reinach did not even feature in the match day 23. However, when de Klerk was ruled out due to injury, Reinach was entrusted with the 9 jersey ahead of Jantjies because he was a more like for like replacement. He had a solid outing in the Boks' victorious cause against the Lions. He then followed that up with a brilliant performance against Argentina in which he managed to get his name on the score sheet.
The match was also used to give game time to youngsters such as Aphelele Fassi, Joseph Dweba, Damian Willemse, Dan du Preez, Jaden Hendrikse and Ox Nche and they did not disappoint. Dweba, Nche and Fassi shined in particular, with the latter showing the potential to become a world class player. We can expect similar squad rotation throughout the Championship as Nienaber builds towards the 2023 World Cup. He is clearly on a mission to develop a squad that can dominate the world of Rugby for years to come, and other nations should be very, very afraid.