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The time Rassie Erasmus 'lost the plot' with a Munster player

By Ian Cameron
Rassie Erasmus /Getty

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When you think of Rassie Erasmus the head coach, you think of a brilliant orator, a canny man-manager, and an unorthodox leader who isn’t scared to think or act outside of the box.

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The World Cup-winning coach’s speeches to the Springboks prior to glory in Japan in 2019 were a social media hit in rugby circles, and while he may have stepped over the line during the British & Irish Lions test, few would question his rugby acumen.

But there is also a lesser-seen, harder side to the Springboks Director of Rugby, as Keith Earls describes in his recent autobiography – Keith Earls – Fight or Flight.

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Erasmus enjoyed a season in Munster prior to returning to South Africa in 2017 to lead the Springboks. It was a productive year in Limerick, with the men in red making it through to the PRO14 final and the semi-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup.

But there were bumps in the road, including an early-season home loss to Cardiff in September 2016. Following the narrow 24 – 23 loss in Musgrave Park at the hands of the Welsh side, Erasmus let fly at his team in a brutal Monday morning review, and as Earls describes it, ‘put the fear of god’ into players.

Earls paints a picture of a man that is prepared to lay down the law and who demanded respect from his charges.

“This was Rassie’s chance to lay down a marker and he didn’t hold back,” Earls wrote. “At the team review on the Monday he wasn’t happy. He put a series of numbers up on the board.

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“Like, 35, 39, 33 etc. ‘Right, can you tell me what these numbers mean? [asked Erasmus]’

“We hadn’t a clue. So he told us they were the ages of the Cardiff pack. He said that basically, we’d let a bunch of old men kick the s**t out of us.

“A few fellas were given a pass but the rest of them would have to go to him one by one afterwards and explain to him why they’d played so badly.

“One of the players sniggered or smiled and Rassie lost the plot with him altogether.

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“He told the player that he could f**k off back to his club for the next few weeks and that if any other outfit wanted to sign him, Rassie would be happy to get rid of him.

“We were all sitting up fairly straight in our chair after that. There wasn’t a murmur out of anyone.

“He put the fear of God into us that day.”

It was a moment in which Erasmus proved he was the “real deal as a manager, a leader, a boss man”.

 

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