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Collateral damage … Jacques Nienaber does not want to get involved in Rassie Erasmus’ referees drama

Collateral damage … Jacques Nienaber does not want to get involved in Rassie Erasmus’ referees drama

Durban — Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber did not quite defend Rassie Erasmus, at his team announcement press conference on Tuesday, but he came pretty darn close, saying that it is “disappointing that people form opinions without all of the facts”.

Erasmus won’t be at Twickenham alongside Nienaber on Saturday because World Rugby has banned him once more because of his controversial highlighting, on social media, of perceived refereeing inadequacies.

When Nienaber was put on the spot regarding Erasmus’ ban, he said: “In terms of the Rassie ban, I guess there will be a lot of questions about it. I focus on rugby more, but we are a tight-knit unit and everybody knows exactly what is going on — we are open and transparent with everybody.

“For us who know all the facts … I don’t want to say it is disappointing, but maybe disappointing is the right word because when only certain facts go out, then people outside understandably form opinions from those facts … but obviously, they don’t know all the facts.

“So is it quite sad if you think about it,” Nienaber continued. “If all the facts were out there people would form a different opinion. I am not pointing fingers at anybody, I do not want to get involved in this, but for us as a group of players, management and staff, we know about everything because everything is shared with the players.

“Unfortunately things (the ban) went that way but for us, the main thing is to focus on the rugby and prepare our players mentally for a big Test against England on Saturday.”

Nienaber was asked to explain which facts have not been made public.

“There is a lot of confidentiality around this and we can’t discuss things in the media. But we know the facts.”

The coach was also asked if he agreed with the former Boks (such as Victor Matfield and John Smit) who say the Boks’ reputation is suffering.

“We can’t control the narratives of other people, but we know what is happening inside and that is all we can control.”

@MikeGreenway67

IOL Sport

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