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Erasmus and Nienaber threatened to resign during Lions tour

By Ian Cameron
Rassie Eramus, the South Africa Springboks head coach looks on during the match between South Africa A and Vodacom Bulls at Cape Town Stadium on July 17, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

In his newly published autobiography titled “Rassie: Stories of Life and Rugby,” Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s current director of rugby, has made a startling revelation about his and Jacque Nienaber’s stance during the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour.


Prior to the highly anticipated Test series beginning, Erasmus faced a critical dilemma when pandemic regulations threatened to prevent his players from participating in a crucial SA A game. Starved of game time, Erasmus knew he had act in order for the Springboks to be ready for the series.

The situation pushed Erasmus to the brink of handing in his resignation, alongside Jacque Nienaber, the Springbok’s head coach. He claims both men threatened the possibility of stepping down as a result of the impasse.

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The behind-the-scenes revelation adds a new dimension to the intense pressure and obstacles faced by the South African coaching team during the at-times controversial Lions tour, shedding light on the dedication and passion they had for their roles in guiding the national team to success amidst unprecedented circumstances.

“This is probably where the tour started turning sour,” writes Erasmus. “I called a group of players and the management to my room and asked them to trust me. I said we couldn’t continue under the current situation where we were stuck in the hotel while the Lions were playing rugby.


“I said, ‘How the fuck are we going to play against the Lions if we don’t play this SA A game in Cape Town?’ We were going to get a beating because we weren’t match fit and needed that game before the Tests.

“I then wrote a letter to Jurie Roux in which I told him that Jacques and I were resigning because we couldn’t just throw away the Springboks’ name like that. I said we were in an impossible situation, and while I knew that we were on life support financially and SA Rugby needed the series to go ahead, we couldn’t carry on.”


The daring gambit worked, and the game went ahead.

“We were saying that he could find new coaches, but we weren’t the people who would be irresponsible and put the Springboks up against international opposition and get 50 points scored against us because we hadn’t played enough rugby.”

The book is available at all good bookstores and Amazon. 



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