CAPE TOWN – South Africa has been abuzz with congratulations and appreciation for our World Cup-winning coach and captain. And no words can even begin to express how deserving they are of the praise.
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Siya Kolisi have been at the centre of South Africa’s massive success story. They are the leaders of the squad, after all.
But another man who has played a big role in the Boks’ World Cup triumph is assistant coach Matt Proudfoot. And he is in some ways the unsung hero of the Boks.
The Boks’ forwards have been absolutely sensational in 2019. Individually they have shone, and as a unit they’ve been even better.
They’ve consistently laid the platform, and during the World Cup final, their performance reached a climax that few would have even thought probable. After all, how much better can a pack already this good get?
At the Yokohama International Stadium, the Bok pack absolutely ruined England. In fact, it was like they actually had got even better. Eddie Jones’ players had no response to the South Africans’ power game, they could give no response to their dominance.
Even when Erasmus brought on replacement props Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch, there was no drop in that dominance. Why would there be? South Africa’s reinforcements on the bench are anything but second string. That bench has been instrumental in the Boks’ success.
And looking at everything this pack has done throughout the season, Proudfoot has to be doing something right.
The former tighthead prop first worked with Erasmus at the Stormers, where he moulded a rather green forward pack into one of the bests in Super Rugby.
The same Kolisi, Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi and Steven Kitshoff who are now bossing opposition packs at Tests level have come through Proudfoot’s hands.
But apart from all the Western Province and Stormers products who are now in the Bok pack, apart from all the current Boks Proudfoot has worked with at provincial level, it’s what he has done for the Bok forwards in recent years that has been quite something.
The players all speak highly of Proudfoot. This Bok pack has played possibly the biggest role in the team’s success. And that alone should say a lot about the influence of the man working directly with them.