South Africa rugby coach Rassie Erasmus said he still believes his side can go all the way and win the 2019 Rugby World Cup despite the defeat to New Zealand.
South Africa lost its opening Pool B game 23-13 to the defending champions at International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama earlier on Saturday.
No team has ever lost a game at a Rugby World Cup and gone on to win that tournament.
Erasmus conceded that the All Blacks deserved to win citing better game management and a higher penalty count in favour of their opponents.
“If you’re grouped with New Zealand in your pool, you have a good chance of not going through your pool undefeated and then you have to fight back and try to get to the final for the first time not being unbeaten. We have to go that route,” Erasmus said.
Despite labeling New Zealand favourites after the match, Erasmus added that he felt South Africa was getting closer to challenging the three-time champions.
“We bring physicality, but they handled our maul well today, they handled our scrum well and they handled our kicking game well. But teams like England and Wales have totally different strengths. So, by all means, New Zealand are the favourites but they will have different tactical challenges against the northern hemisphere teams,” he said.
South Africa’s next match is on September 28 against fellow Africans Namibia in Toyota City.
The Springboks must win all three of their remaining pool games to guarantee a place in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.