‘Going to be epic’: Rassie spices up Irish Tests with X posts

The only account Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is following on X is @IrishRugby. Photo: BackpagePix

The only account Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is following on X is @IrishRugby. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 30, 2024


Just when it looked like it was going to be a quiet Saturday in South African rugby yesterday, Rassie Erasmus decided to spice things up ahead of next week’s first Test between the Springboks and Ireland in Pretoria.

Mzansi’s attention yesterday was focused on the Proteas cricket team as they faced India in the T20 World Cup final in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Closer to home, there was an under-strength Bafana Bafana side taking on Botswana in the Cosafa Cup.

On the rugby scene, the highlight was the Junior Springboks facing Fiji in their World Rugby Under-20 Championship opener at Cape Town Stadium last night.

It was also the final day of the Craven Week in Krugersdorp, where Western Province were the unofficial champions by beating Free State 37-24.

But what Erasmus called the “biggest competition for us this year” is the Ireland Test series, and he followed on from former Irish wing Simon Zebo’s comments by listing what the Bok camp thought would be their opponents’ match-23 with their weight, age and cap numbers.

The world champions will be seeking revenge on July 6 (Pretoria) and July 13 (Durban) after losing the last three games against Ireland – 13-8 at last year’s World Cup in Paris, 19-16 in Dublin in 2022, and 38-3 in Dublin in 2017.

Zebo said on the Kick Offs and Kick Ons podcast, following Damian de Allende’s recent comments about “war” and that the Boks want to get some “respect back”: “To be fair, to his (De Allende’s) point, I think the media did get a bit out of control here with the hopes and expectations.

“Rassie hates the Irish – he really, really doesn’t like us, which is quite funny. It will build up even more, and it drip-feeds into the players. RG Snyman (his Munster teammate) has been copping a little bit of slack over it.

“There is a really, really big rivalry there, and it’s bubbling. It’s mainly the Irish media’s fault. I think it’s based in Dublin, not the Irish media down here where I am (at Munster)... It’s going to be a juicy Test series, that’s for sure.”

The only account the Bok boss is following on X is @IrishRugby, and he wouldn’t have endeared himself to the Irish fans by using the Republic of Ireland flag instead of the Irish Rugby one that’s used for the sport, as the team represents the Republic, as well as Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

That may not have been deliberate on Erasmus’ part, and neither would have been the incorrect spelling of some of the Irish players’ names and surnames on the list as he posted on X (formerly Twitter): “This is class!! Going to be epic (SA) vs (Ireland)... Next week this time!!”

There was Dan “Sheenan” (instead of Sheehan), “Tadgh” (instead of Tadhg) Furlong, “MC Mcarthy” (Joe McCarthy), “Tadgh Byrne” (Tadhg Beirne), “Gary” (Garry) Ringrose, Ryan “Bird” (Baird) and Nick “Tomoney” (Timoney).

Erasmus followed it up with “Small Margins!!” as he posted a screen shot of the total caps, ages and weights of the Bok and Irish match-23s – he will announce the South African side on Tuesday.

The Bok mentor stated that the SA team’s numbers are 1 162 caps, 693 in age terms and 2 415kg in weight, compared to Ireland’s 1 017 caps, 660 in age terms and 2 431kg in weight.

The averages work out to 50 caps, 30 age and 105kg weight for the Boks, and 44 caps, 29 age and 106kg weight for the Irish.

— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) June 29, 2024

“If there is one team that’s certainly got the upper hand... It just shows on paper that since 2016 – I never want to make us the underdogs, and we don’t want to be the underdogs – but the stats are there. We haven’t beaten them since 2016,” Erasmus said this week.

“On the Simon Zebo thing... He messaged me. People who know Simon Zebo would know that he is a joker! Every chance he gets, he makes a joke, a little crack here and there.

“He immediately messaged me and said that came out totally wrong, and that they didn’t understand what I was trying to say. He apologised and said must he go back on air and rectify it, and I said no man, let’s spice it up! Let’s keep it that way.”

Bok lock Salmaan Moerat echoed De Allende’s “respect” theme, saying this week: “We do follow the media, and there’s been a lot said in the media about this series – and I think this rivalry is very healthy.

“Ireland being an exceptional team and us being world champs, there’s always going to be a massive rivalry.

“It’s also very personal for us, whoever we are facing, and the Irish series will be exceptional in the sense that they always want to beat us, and we haven’t beaten them for a couple of years now – so it’s going to be a massive series.

“They believe they should have been world champions, and there’s a bit of a respect factor as well. I think we want to get some respect – I don’t think we’ve been given the respect.

“Respectfully, we are the world champions. You can’t argue with the record, or results. So, I think there is going to be a bit of niggle, and at the end of the day, those are the best Test matches.”

After a few days off following a week’s training in Pretoria following last weekend’s Wales clash in London, the Boks will reassemble in the capital city today for next Saturday’s Irish Test opener at Loftus Versfeld.

Let the games begin...

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