Rassie Erasmus says Springboks have concentrated on ‘respecting’ officials at Rugby World Cup

Springboks director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus say they have worked on respecting referees. Photo: AFP

Springboks director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus say they have worked on respecting referees. Photo: AFP

Published Oct 11, 2023


There remains a slight possibility that the Springboks might not be able to play Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against France under the national flag of South Africa but the great news is that the team will wear their traditional green strip.

This was confirmed last night in Paris by director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.

“Obviously, the ideal for us is to continue as normal,” he said of the threat to ban the national anthem and the flying of the SA flag.

“We want to concentrate on playing for South Africa and we are pleased to confirm we will be wearing our usual green and gold jersey. But even if the decision went the other way, the boys are totally focused on the match.

“Whatever happens, we know we were going to represent South Africa.”

Erasmus has been on his best behaviour at the World Cup in terms of his relationship with referees, and it is perhaps no coincidence that the Boks are the only team at the World Cup to not have suffered a red or yellow card.

Erasmus says the Boks have concentrated on respecting the officials.

"For us, the first word is respect,” he said.

“I think, definitely, we got it wrong in stages especially when we had the year off with Covid and we went into the (British and Irish) Lions series.

The level of communication with World Rugby was really tough, even when we played our 100th game against New Zealand, we were in a bubble in Australia.

“World rugby couldn't be there in the Lions series because of Covid. So, it was tough to get improved communication and I guess on both sides it led to frustration.

“Last year, I had a phone call with (former referee) Nigel Owens and I said, ‘We really want to get this right, we don't want people not to like us’,” Erasmus continued.

“We wanted to know how things worked and I must say what we learned from those conversations is that no matter if we are right, the respect you show to the referee you will get back, even if he makes mistakes or you make mistakes.

“We also had to adapt our game a little bit. If you only rely on the maul, it is difficult to referee a maul. If you only rely on a scrum, it's difficult to referee a scrum.

“I'll be honest with you, there was one tweet I tweeted, especially after the France game (in 2022), I was quite honest and serious about it. We had to change our game to make it easier for referees”

Regarding the Boks’ exemplary discipline in France, Erasmus said: “So, yes no cards, and I think we are fourth lowest for penalty count.

“We had to earn the respect back and I think it is showing at this stage that it works both ways.”