Mark Keohane, in the the Cape Times and IOL, writes that South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus must continue to entertain, educate and inspire with the videos he is posting on his personal Twitter account. He must ignore the dinosaurs who believe behind the scenes Springbok footage is sacrilege and should not be viewed by the passionate rugby supporters.
It really has been the Siya Kolisi show since the Springboks won the World Cup, but the mastermind behind the Springboks World Cup triumph, coach and Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, has hardly been seen, let alone heard.
That was until the past week when it was reported that he was going to take up the role of England’s new rugby boss at the end of 2021. Erasmus, one of the great thinkers of the game and the most sought-after rugby brain in world rugby, finally opened a social media account on Twitter.
His response to reports that he was joining England was to publish a two-minute video of his pre-World Cup final address to the Springboks. He asked the rugby world one question with the post and it was ‘what would he say to any other rugby nation after this?’
What Erasmus was telling every other nation and showing them was that his heart was all South African and that his passion of Springbok rugby is fueled by his patriotism in being South African and because of this he is a major influence and contributor to a better South Africa.
Erasmus was the first Springbok coach/Director of Rugby that broke the shackles of transformation. He picked black players because he believed they were the best. He picked Kolisi as his captain because he believed he was his starting flanker and the best player to lead the team. There was nothing political about his decision-making. He didn’t select black players to appease liberals, politicians or to piss off those conservatives who haven’t move beyond the 1940s.
Whatever Erasmus did was motivated by what was in his heart. I have known Erasmus for the past 25 years, written about him as a Springbok player, worked with him during my time as part of the Springboks management, written about him as a coach and I also had the privilege of writing about his success story in winning the World Cup.
I found Erasmus’s response on Twitter to be the stuff of a pioneer when it comes to international rugby coaches using the influence and power of social media to inspire, educate and inform with accuracy and authenticity.
It was a golden moment for Erasmus, the equal of anything he has done since taking over South African rugby because he gave the South African and world audience a behind-the-scenes snapshot of the remarkable culture he has built within the Springboks. He didn’t leave anything for interpretation, for editing or for an agenda-based third party to report on.
He did it himself.
The clips he used were his speech to the team and two short videos in which he details to the Springboks the four stages of being a Springbok, which, according to Erasmus, starts with desperation to being a Springbok and ends with entitlement because of being a Springbok.
In the most candid of presentations he talks about his own entitlement when a Bok player, what a ‘Dick’ he became, how entitled he felt and what a virus he had become in the squad, which led to the then Springbok coach and businessman Harry Viljoen dropping him.
Erasmus told the Bok players the culture within the Bok squad would not accommodate players who acted with entitlement and as ‘dicks’. He implored players to take ownership of not becoming that ‘dick’ of a player and also letting a teammate know if they had gone down that path.
It provided such insight into what was built within the Springboks over the past two seasons.
Amazingly, there were some who objected to Erasmus’s videos as showing too much, apparently because it crushed the mystique of whatever fantasy it is people hang onto about what goes on behind closed doors in the Springboks camp.
Among the objections, was one published on SuperSport, a partner of SA Rugby and the biggest broadcast investor into South African rugby. Quite clearly they were annoyed they didn’t publish the vidoes, but the argument that Erasmus had showed too much really belonged in another era.
Erasmus showed transparency and the truth behind his Springboks.
If every coach did this, there would be less speculation, less perception paraded as fact and less dishonesty. There would be trust and there would be terrific viewing.
Long may Erasmus’s Twitter account last and long may we be privileged to his insights, thoughts and behind the scenes videos of the team we like to call the people’s team.