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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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Turlough 294 days ago

Agree Marx is major loss. France's wide defense is their weakness and they may need Mannie on the pitch to exploit that. They need to win this game with a more comprehensive approach. We saw some of it against Ireland.

Jonathan 296 days ago

I'd like to disagree with the officiating. Ben O'Keefe was was good at letting the game flow but that was it. He and his colleagues missed 2 blatant obstructions from SA (13 and 16). Ireland Scrum in the first half was atrocious. Ire 1 in the first scrum had his elbow on the floor, later scrums their knees were grounded and this was all missed right in front of O'Keefes eyes. Rolling away calls were not made fairly as Ire like to milk the position of SA players to get Pens. Multiple cheap shots from IRE players like the one on Faf when he was trying to make a charge down. Neck Rolls, holding players in the ruck also aplenty. Lets also point out the cynical play from Nche that was made clear to the ref by the IRE players but he nor the AR couldn't be arsed to check. The ruling at the last play of the game was also shocking, IRE 12 in from the side, lifting a players leg and collapsing the maul in fron of the ref with IRE 1 also offside from the get go. 2 Penalisable offenses so close to the line you could argue a penalty try. Both sides made bad plays on each other in a heated game, which is understandable in such a big game. But, I would like to point out that only water is allowed to be brought onto the field during drinks breaks. Please, do yourselves a favor and watch the game again. Blatant use of Crampfix, the little black bottle/ sachet that the IRE medics and players seem to think is water, as well as the use of grip spray on the field is against the rules and this should be well known to the IRE layers, medics and coaching staff. The sight of this was disgusting. Rugby is a game that is played hard, but with respect. Respect for the laws of the game, the opposition team and the fans who spend lots of money and time to go and watch this awesome sport. Ireland took a piss on the game by doing that. World rugby needs to open their eyes and hold teams, individual players and especially the referees accountable for what happens in games so that future errors can hopefully be mitigated.

Dave 297 days ago

I think Ben O'Keefe Did a great job, couple of slip-ups but no one's perfect, he had a good read on the game very bipartisan and kept the game flowing, rugby would be a lot more tantalizing to watch if all refs played similar roles.davej.

Paul 297 days ago

He's right. Kiwi ref knows how to manage the game to ensure entertaining. He was brilliant. Credit to SA for being prepared to play at pace. Best game I have seen in a long time.

lot 297 days ago

I guess Ireland's Bomb Dismantaling Unit did their job on the night... Bomb Squad failed 🤣 🤣

CO 297 days ago

Hasn't Rassie been warned about publically critiquing the performance of referees?

How is telling the ref they've done a good job and why any different to telling the ref they've done a bad job and why?

Johan 298 days ago

Who made the stupid decision to go for poles from halfway with no kicker? Forewards had way better chance close to line. Try, penalty, card, pressure??? Team played great. Management failed them with that traffic light through jitters

Left Winger 298 days ago

Never mind about the referee Rassie, just acknowledge Ireland were the better side on the night. No-one likes losing, but it happens! Sometimes to very good teams.
A bit of grace and humility would confer respect ( to your opposition) and that is what rugby is all about.
Why is that so difficult for you?

Pieter 298 days ago

We will support the Springboks every step of the way. Appreciate the sorry now go win the world cup for us.

Euan 298 days ago

The 7-1 split is gone for good (riddance).

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