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Rassie Erasmus almost resigned, ’lost friends’ after appointing Siya Kolisi as Springbok captain

South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP

South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP

Published Mar 6, 2022

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Cape Town - Rassie Erasmus says he almost resigned from his position as SA Rugby director of rugby before the 2021 British Lions tour of South Africa.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Erasmus gave a wide-ranging interview, which included their Lions Series victory and ’that’ video. Erasmus also spoke about how he ‘lost a lot of friends’ after appointing Siya Kolisi as Springbok captain, describing it as a ‘flammable situation’ in South Africa.

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Despite severely lacking game time due to not having played a Test since their World Cup triumph in Japan, the Boks defied the odds to secure a 2-1 Series victory and after playing only one preparation Test against Georgia after the second Test was called off due to personnel in both camps testing positive Covid-19.

“We had three games before the Lions Test Series: against Georgia and one midweek game between South Africa A and the Lions. We played Georgia at the end of the week and then we got 24 positive cases, so the next Georgia game was cancelled for good reason. Their coach almost died.

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“Our plan was to play our Test team in the second game against Georgia and then play our toughest A team against the Lions to rough them up a bit. Soften them up. But according to the medical committee back in England, we weren’t even allowed outside of our hotel rooms to train.

“They wanted to cancel our midweek game and they didn’t want us to fly to Cape Town until two days before the first Test. I said, ‘No chance.’ We couldn’t go and play the Lions after one game of preparation in 18 months. It would be a farce.

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“I said to the Lions board, ‘I have spoken to my players and if this midweek game is off then the series is off.’ It was a bluff. We couldn’t afford to call off the tour. If they had cancelled the tour I was ready to say I lied about having the backing of my players and I would have resigned.”

Erasmus also reiterated that he did not leak the controversial video in which he pointed out errors made by Australian referee Nic Berry during the first Test against the Lions.

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After he was found guilty of breaching World Rugby’s code of conduct, Erasmus was suspended from all rugby for two months and is still not allowed to not attend a rugby match until September 30.

@WynonaLouw

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