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Rassie Erasmus issues public apology and offers view on referee O'Keeffe

By Kim Ekin
outh Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus looks on during the pre match warm up ahead of the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France on September 23, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

Springboks Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has shared a public apology on Twitter in the wake of South Africa’s 13-8 loss to Ireland.


Expectations were high for the Springboks after riding a six-game winning streak into the highly anticipated clash with the world’s number one ranked side.

But the defending champions fell short in a gladitorial battle where defence restricted both sides to a try apiece.

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Goal kicking separated the two sides with scrumhalf Faf de Klerk missing two long-range attempts inside his own half and flyhalf Mannie Libbok missing one conversion and one penalty.

Ireland scored six second half points on two scrum penalties to take a 13-8 lead which they held onto when South Africa’s final maul attempt failed.

Erasmus congratulated Ireland for the win and issued a public apology to South Africa with a promise to “work harder and make you proud”.

The former head coach also added his opinion on referee Ben O’Keeffe, writing “also nice to be involved in a game so intense and physical without the referee getting too much involved!”


“Well done Ben and your team.”

South Africa are still in a strong position to qualify for the quarter-finals after beating Scotland in the opening week.

They face Tonga in their final game but have all but secured qualification barring a miraculous turn of events from Scotland, who need to beat Ireland handsomely, restricting them to no losing bonus points, and secure bonus point wins over Tonga and Romania.

Should Pool A finish with France on top, South Africa will draw the hosts in a quarter-final to be played at the same venue, Stade de France in Paris.


Belief is still high within the Springboks camp that they can replicate their deeds from 2019, where they went on to win the World Cup after losing a pool game to New Zealand.

“Yeah, we can still (win the tournament). Obviously you have to (believe). We’re in this competition to win it,” head coach Jacques Nienaber said.

“Teams that lose a game in the pool stages must work hard to get out of the pool, so definitely we can still win it.

“We played against the number one team in the world and we lost by five points and we had opportunity in the 79th minute to get a result.”


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