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Nienaber's 10-word answer when quizzed post-game on Erasmus

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Rassie Erasmus was banned from attending Saturday’s match at Twickenham but the Springboks director of rugby still cast a shadow on proceedings, be it at the post-game media briefing, the cancelled half-time Wayne Barnes event, or tweeting earlier in the day about his supposedly positive dialogue with World Rugby.

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First things first. Jacques Nienaber thought he was all done when a final question in the English part of the head coach’s after-match conference just had to be about you know who. “Did Rassie have any input during the 80 minutes, was there any communication?”

A ten-word answer was all Nienaber would give before proceedings moved onto Afrikaans. “No, we’re not allowed to talk to him here, unfortunately,” he said about his boss, who would have likely watched the match back at South Africa’s Lensbury hotel base less the three miles away by road.

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That was the final mention of Erasmus on a busy headline-making day for the supposedly exiled DoR that began with SA Rugby releasing a media statement reporting on his Thursday meeting with World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin and Phil Davies, the director of rugby.

They are due to convene again soon judging by the messages Erasmus then posted to Twitter, his first comments on the social media site since a tweet the previous week appealing to South African fans shortly before he was busted with his two-day match day ban.

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“Thank you WR and let’s move on,” he wrote, except the legacy of his sarcastic tweeting about referees had an unfortunate sequel at Twickenham later that afternoon. The match programme had stated that the RFU were set to honour Barnes for becoming a centurion Test referee by introducing him to the crowd at half-time.

That plan, though, was binned for fear there could be a negative reaction from Springboks supporters given that Barnes, who was going to be at Twickenham with his family, had been in charge for South Africa’s loss in Marseille to France which set Erasmus off on Twitter.

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2 Comments
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Michael Röbbins (academic and writer extraordinair 571 days ago

Legit question: can anyone explain why Ronan O’Gara is allowed at match day (real near the coaching box although under a 10 week ban) and Rassie isn’t allowed to even speak to his people when they’re at the stadium? For those who don’t actually watch club rugby, O’Gara was at La Rochelle’s 53-7 atomizing of Castres (more like castrated) yesterday.

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Flankly 571 days ago

Excluding Rassie from matchdays no doubt reduces the capacity for good in-game adjustments. But I expect it also increases leadership skills across the rest of the squad.

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Flankly 3 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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