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19th Sep 2023

Rassie Erasmus ramps up pressure on Ireland with brutal, but true, comments

Patrick McCarry

Rassie Erasmus

“No, I won’t be. There have been no talks and there is no truth in that.”

Rassie Erasmus has denied any suggestions he will be returning to Ireland to take over from David Nucifora as IRFU Performance Director. While he was at it, he lobbed a couple of verbal grenades at Ireland and their World Cup record.

The former Munster Director of Rugby had found himself linked, along with Joe Schmidt, to the role held by Nucifora but he told reporters at a Monday press briefing that would not be happening.

“I am not sure where it started but definitely not,” said Erasmus. “I haven’t chatted to them and I am definitely not following Jacques [Nienaber, who is going to Leinster].”

Rassie ErasmusRassie Erasmus pictured during a South Africa training at the 2019 World Cup. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

‘It might be nice to make it a sensational thing’ – Rassie Erasmus

In the last World Cup, a documentary following the South Africa team that would go on to win the tournament, featured Rassie Eramus telling his players that Ireland were “softies”.

Ireland, of course, have never managed to get beyond the World Cup quarter finals and it is a spectre that hangs over the side every four years. It will remain so until Ireland break through that particular barrier.

In his Monday press briefing, Erasmus was asked if Ireland’s poor record had been brought up as part of his team’s preparation for Saturday’s Pool B clash. Smiling, he replied:

“I was thinking about that when I read a few things on social media.

“A few of my friends said that Ireland is our bogey team, but the World Cup is Ireland’s bogey competition.”

Erasmus then went on to speak about how his side had created history, in 2019, by losing their opening pool match and going on to win the competition. He noted that New Zealand, who lost against France in their opening match at this tournament, will be looking to emulate that Springbok achievement.

“I really think history, it might be nice to make it a sensational thing, but the belief from within the Irish team and from the South African team – at the end of the day, it’s what those 33 players and management believe,” he added.

During that same Erasmus press conference, he confirmed that outhalf Handré Pollard would not be in contention for Saturday’s game, despite him being called up for injured hooker Malcom Marx.

On how he and Jacques Nienaber might split the South Africa replacements bench, in terms of forwards and backs, he said, “I don’t think we can go 8:0 [forwards:backs], that is a bit extreme. But seven-one is definitely an option…

“The six-two a couple of years back was new to people and now a lot of teams are doing six-two. If you go seven-one you have to have players like Kwagga Smith, someone that is used to playing at the sevens level against Fiji. Then again, you have guys like Johnny Sexton who can exploit it when you get an injury early in the game.”


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