Rassie Erasmus, left, gives advice to Faf de Klerk, centre, and Handre Pollard during the Boks’ first Test match against the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday. Picture: EJ LANGNER/GALLO IMAGES
Rassie Erasmus, left, gives advice to Faf de Klerk, centre, and Handre Pollard during the Boks’ first Test match against the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday. Picture: EJ LANGNER/GALLO IMAGES

Rassie Erasmus’s activity on social media has taken the spotlight off new Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber ahead of Saturday’s key second Test against the British & Irish Lions.

Such has been the interest surrounding the activities of SA’s director of rugby regarding off-field issues that he felt the need to sit alongside Nienaber at the announcement of the Bok team on Tuesday.         

Erasmus first engaged his followers on Twitter to say there could be “no excuses”, while also writing that the visitors were deserved winners.

Then on Monday he retweeted a video from a Twitter handle with the name “Jaco Johan”, which highlighted several refereeing issues. He said: “Sometimes calls go for you and other times they don’t.”

Speculation then began that it could be Erasmus himself running the “Jaco Johan” account to bring certain issues into the spotlight.

“It’s actually why I’m at the press conference,” Erasmus said. “I was feeling sorry for Jacques because I knew he would probably get that question.

“I’m actually not Jaco Johan, I’m Rassie Erasmus. I follow Jaco Johan because he is a big supporter of ours and he’s been feeding me some really good clips for a while now.

“These are some things I’ve used in the past; he’s actually a big supporter and a really funny guy,” Erasmus said.

“And as to why I’m so active on Twitter, well, I just retweeted one or two things that I thought were quite accurate. As director of rugby, the medical department is also part of that role and we have the BokSmart programme aimed at player safety.

“I just thought the way Cheslin Kolbe was picked up off the ground ... was dangerous considering he could have been injured. We teach our primary schoolchildren from any age-group level to leave a player alone if they are injured.

“We wouldn’t want our Springbok players to go and start picking up Lions players this weekend if they are lying on their back injured. So I just felt it was an important one to get out there,” he said. 

“I did retweet a few other things I thought were spot on, which is the same as last year.

“A guy like Squidge Rugby is someone I enjoy and so, when something makes sense to me, I like to retweet it.”

Erasmus has rejected suggestions he interferes too much in the Springbok coaching set-up and should rather allow Nienaber to get on with the job.

Former England World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward wrote in a newspaper column after Saturday’s first Test that Erasmus should be suited up in the stands rather than coaching the players on the pitch in his new role as a “water carrier”.

“Confusion at the top and a lack of demarcation between the roles of director of rugby and SA national team coach [are] killing the Springboks,” he wrote.

Erasmus was quick to hit back at Woodward. “I don’t know if being a Sir is that important in SA as it is in England,” he said.

“That’s his opinion. Jacques and I are great mates. I’m the water carrier at this stage so he is higher than me in rank.

“I wouldn’t listen too much to Sir Clive Woodward, he doesn’t really matter to me.”

 

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