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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Morgan Treacy/INPHO Erasmus will not longer run water for the Boks.
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'I'll be with the coaches' - Rassie's waterboy days over ahead of Ireland clash
The Springboks director of rugby remembers a ‘proper hiding’ from Ireland back in 2017.

FIRST THINGS FIRST, Rassie Erasmus confirms that he will no longer be patrolling out onto the pitch.

Having served his ban and with the rules around water carriers having changed, Rassie’s waterboy days are over as he returns to matchday duty with the Springboks against Ireland on Saturday.

“Obviously it was in the protocols and laws back when I was water carrier,” Erasmus reminded us at the Springboks’ team hotel in Dublin this afternoon.

“So I’ll be back in the coaches box with the coaches.” 

Erasmus will clock up fewer steps but having him back in the mix is very welcome for the South Africans. The SA Rugby director of rugby is a clever tactician and world-class motivator, so he has naturally been missed on game days.

The last time South Africa played in Dublin was a dark day as they were taken apart by Joe Schmidt’s side in 2017. Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber, the current Boks head coach, were in the crowd that day as they took a break from their duties with Munster.

Erasmus later said the image of the Boks being dismantled provided motivation for the journey towards World Cup glory that followed. He vowed that such a low point wouldn’t come around again with him in charge.

rassie-erasmus-takes-a-kick Ben Brady / INPHO Erasmus at training this week in UCD. Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

“We got a proper hiding, 38-3,” said Erasmus. “But the next three years, things got better and we managed to win the World Cup. I guess five years since then, both teams have changed dramatically in terms of how they do things and how they play.

“Obviously, the way Ireland have played and the teams they have beaten to be where they are currently, they’re doing a lot of things right on and off the field. But we’re looking forward to it, we’re in for stiff competition. The Irish crowd are respectful and know how to enjoy both sides of the game. It’s going to be a good one to watch.”

One talking point this week has been the possibility of a jarring clash between the Springboks’ dark green jersey and Ireland’s alternative navy kit.

But Erasmus said he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

“The thing is I’m not sure. I’ve looked at both jerseys and whether they will clash. For me, it looks like it won’t clash, but I’m not a referee who makes the decisions on the field when it’s really tight and close.

“I guess those guys will have done their homework and know it wouldn’t clash. I just know the home team gets to wear their alternative jerseys and the visiting team wears their traditional jerseys. So as long as the referee can see and the fans can see and we’re able to play without disturbing anything.

“Really when I compare the two, it looks like there’s a difference. We just know we have to pitch up with our jerseys and if there’s a clash, the guys in charge will sort it out.”

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rassie-erasmus Ben Brady / INPHO The SA Rugby director of rugby is back from his ban. Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have good knowledge of Irish rugby after their time with Munster, while attack coach Felix Jones was with the province as a player and coach for the majority of his career.

With Leinster lock Jason Jenkins – who was at Munster last season – now back in the Boks squad, they also have some up-to-date insider knowledge, but again Erasmus said this can all be overplayed.

“Insights, me knowing the Irish set-up very well, but then the Irish players and coaches know me very well,” said Erasmus.

“I know the question of Jason Jenkins comes up but you can look at it the other way around as well. He’s going back to Leinster and he will obviously know a lot about the Boks.

“It’s something that people always ask but we’d never pick a guy for that reason, it would be stupid to bugger around a guy’s career.

“There’s a lot of plans that we made and analysis we did for them but they will have done the same. It will be great to see on Saturday which of those two plans and tactics work. We’re fairly confident but we know they’re fairly confident. It will be a great match-up.”

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