Rassie Erasmus, head coach of South Africa during the team announcement at the Tokyo Bay Hotel on Wednesday. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

DURBAN – All Blacks coach Steve Hansen’s jab at his Springbok counterpart Rassie Erasmus on account of the latter’s joust at tomorrow’s match in Yokohama has merit, in my estimation.

I just don’t think it was necessary for the Boks to surrender the moral high ground that has been there this year since they came back from the dead last year to re-ignite the rivalry between the countries.

The rivalry is back to its very best, the world is talking about the Boks as the favourites to win the Webb Ellis Cup and the country of New Zealand is all a sweat.

England’s best rugby writers, Stephen Jones and Stuart Barnes, have been waxing on about how good the Boks are and how they are the team to beat in Japan.

All has been rosy as far as the Boks are concerned, so I was perplexed as to why the coach took a very premeditated go at French Referee Jerome Garces ...

It is true that the Boks have often battled with the eccentric “Mr Bean” type ref but one thing Garces does do, is make big calls, as he did in a recent Bledisloe Cup match in which he red carded a much decorated All Black forward for a shoulder charge.

My feeling is that up until this match, the Boks have played the perfect political game. They have not put a foot wrong on or off the field regarding the Aphiwe Dyantyi and Eben Etzebeth episodes that were dealt with immediately and with efficiency.

The Boks, in recent years, have been the paragons of virtue in their dealing with officials, so why the rash decision to ruffle the feathers of the match officials?

Because that is what they have done, and it was so uncalled for, because now the referee is riled and is now leaning towards Hansen who, with angles on his shoulders has politely wondered why the Boks are asking these questions?

Rassie Erasmus during the Springboks training session.at the Arcs Urayasu Park on Tuesday. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

So much has been written about how Rassie has matured over the years, especially since his two-year-stint at Munster which saw him return from Ireland as a much-changed straight-shooting coach.

But then last November we had that infantile, staged video shoot at a Springbok training session in Paris that had Rassie doing a mock drill with centre Andre Esterhuizen as to how he should tackle in matches going forward the week before England flyhalf Owen Farrell had illegally crashed into Esterhuizen in a Test match at Twickenham, which cost the Boks the game.

That reaction by Erasmus and the staged follow up was immature and won the Boks no friends amongst the officials. And then this week Rassie prompting Mzwandile Stick to have a crack at the French officials on duty tomorrow is equally injudicious.


The Mercury

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