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'I'm not Jaco Johan' - Erasmus distances himself from suspect Twitter account

The Springboks director of rugby has been suspected of running the Jaco Johan account.

Rassie Erasmus
Rassie Erasmus
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ANOTHER STRANGE DAY on this British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa saw Rassie Erasmus deny being behind the ‘Jaco Johan’ Twitter account which he has been strongly suspected of running.

The Jaco Johan account came to public attention after Erasmus retweeted two tweets from the account which highlighted incidents involving British and Irish Lions players in their warm-up game against South Africa A and the opening Test against the Springboks.

The first tweet was a video of a possible high tackle by Owen Farrell in South Africa A’s win over the Lions, with the second video a selection of incidents from the opening Test against the Lions last Saturday.

The Jaco Johan account is one of only three accounts Erasmus follows on Twitter and appears to use the same analysis software Erasmus uses in his own videos, leading to suggestions the South Africa director of rugby may be using the account as a means of highlighting incidents he has been unhappy with.

Appearing alongside South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber for today’s team announcement press conference, Erasmus was asked if he is the man behind the Jaco Johan account.

“No I’m actually not Jaco Johan, I’m Rassie Erasmus,” he said.

I actually follow Jaco Johan, he’s a big supporter of us. He’s been feeding me some really good clips for a while now, things that I’ve actually used in the past.

“He’s a very big supporter, a really funny guy and I quite enjoy the things that he does.”

Erasmus has been quite active on his own verified Twitter account recently, posting a video of Lions prop Mako Vunipola lifting Cheslin Kolbe off the ground during the first Test, an act he described as “reckless and dangerous.”

He also replied to the official British and Irish Lions account to congratulate them on their win last week.

“Why am I so active on Twitter? I think I just retweeted two or three things I thought were accurate,” he explained.

“And I tweeted twice just for a simple reason: as director of rugby the medical department is part of our department. I thought the way Cheslin was picked off the ground could have been a serious injury.

“We teach our primary school children from any age or level that you leave a player as he is there, because it is dangerous. We wouldn’t like our Springbok players this Saturday to go and pick up every Lions player who is on their back.

“Otherwise I just thought the other tweet was, the Lions really deserved to win. They have gone through the same protocols as us, they are far away from home.

“So it was only those two tweets, and then obviously I did retweet a few things that I thought were spot-on. When something makes sense to me I like to retweet it.”

The former Munster coach was asked why he didn’t simply contract World Rugby with any grievances he had following the first Test.

“That takes a bit of a while, we tried to do that on Sunday but they didn’t come back to us, and on Monday they didn’t come back to us. This morning we got the report back.

“So when you get it only on a Tuesday morning it does disrupt your week in terms of team selection and what things you want to rectify and the tactics Jacques wanted to employ.

“We really tried hard to make contact with them (World Rugby) on Sunday night, we sent through some clips asking for some guidance and help with some things we wanted to fix and maybe change in our team selection.

“But unfortunately they said it was the same in the Six Nations – which we wouldn’t know because we don’t play there – but they said they normally only give feedback on a Tuesday.”

When it was suggested to Erasmus that the Lions had managed to influence the officials last week, he pointed to the fact that this week’s match referee, Ben O’Keefe, is the same nationality as Lions head coach Warren Gatland. South Africa’s Marius Jonker had been a controversial appointment as TMO for the first Test, but crossed out a late Springboks try following a tight offside call against Willie le Roux.

“In the past we’ve found that when we talk in the media too much it normally backfires for us,” Erasmus said.

“Warren talked last week about Marius Jonker. Warren is a great guy, I’ll tell you straight up, I always enjoy his company, he’s a good man. But it was weird for me that people would question Marius’ integrity.

Say we say this weekend, Ben O’Keefe is a New Zealander and Warren is also a New Zealander, we would never say that. It wouldn’t sit well.

“The whole integrity of the game would be questioned, and we would never do that.

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“What we are trying to do is find out from World Rugby exactly some decisions which we got wrong and some things we could have done better in the game. That’s what we’re focusing on.”

It was suggested to Erasmus that using social media to discuss decisions that went against his team could also undermine referees and the integrity of the game.   

“You’re 100% right, if somebody goes and micro-analyses every decision that’s not been taken, I think that’s awful, you can’t do that. The referee only has one pair of eyes.

“But I think if you analyse the things that he’s supposed to see, I think you’re then actually spot-on with the integrity of the game.”

A bizarre press conference then saw Erasmus asked about comments by former England coach Clive Woodward in a recent column for the Daily Mail regarding his recent ‘waterboy’ role with the Boks.

Woodward wrote: “Confusion at the top and a lack of demarcation between the roles of director of rugby Erasmus and South Africa national team coach Jacques Nienaber is killing the Springboks.”

“I don’t know if his ‘Sir’ is so important in South Africa, but in England, I’m not sure,” Erasmus replied.

“That’s his opinion. Myself and Jacques are great mates. I am the water carrier at this stage, so I think he is higher than me in rank.

“We have always worked together since the military in 1990. The way we work together, if you look at that match on Saturday, when it was 71 (minutes), we almost scored a try, it was called back. Then our working relationship might have been (viewed as) perfect. Then people say it’s working really well.

“So, I wouldn’t listen to too much of Clive Woodward, he doesn’t really matter to me.” 

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Ciarán Kennedy

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