Cape Town — He won’t be a “waterboy” this time, but Rassie Erasmus cannot wait to be part of the Springbok matchday set-up for Saturday’s showdown with Ireland in Dublin.
Erasmus will hope to celebrate his 50th birthday on Saturday in style with a Bok victory, having been at the same venue in 2017 when the South Africans went down 38-3.
He had played a prominent role in helping the Boks pitch-side since Jacques Nienaber took over as coach following the 2019 World Cup, but a change in World Rugby regulations means that Erasmus is not allowed on the sidelines any longer as he is the director of rugby at SA Rugby.
However, the former loose forward is delighted to play his part on Saturday again, following the end of his World Rugby ban after his infamous video about Australian referee Nic Berry’s performance during the British & Irish Lions series last year.
“Obviously it was in the protocols way back when I was the water carrier, so I will be back in the coaches’ box with the coaches,” Erasmus said.
“I’ve certainly learnt a lot about rugby. I love matchdays and I love being with the guys in the change-room. I missed it a hell of a lot, and it’s nice to be back. It’s not nice not being with the team.
“You work with the guys in the week, and then there the bus goes with the players and you go to your room. I really love rugby, I love South Africa. I like the boys, and we get on well. It’s nice to be back.”
Having spent nearly two years in Ireland as the director of rugby at Munster before becoming Bok coach in 2018, Erasmus is also well-equipped to provide the South Africans with inside info on the opposition.
In addition, former Bulls lock Jason Jenkins now plays for Leinster, who are based in Dublin, after being part of the Munster squad last season, so he will also have great knowledge of the Irish team.
But the 2019 World Cup-winning coach doesn’t think that it will play a major role on Saturday.
“It’s one thing me knowing the Irish set-up very well, but then the Irish people know me that well – the Irish coaches and players. Jason Jenkins is with us too, and you can look at it the other way around as well. We almost want to put the inside (info) thing out of the way,” Erasmus said.
“Whatever you get inside, you also give a lot away. When Jason is joining us and then he is going back to Leinster, then he will know a lot about the Boks as well.
“But we will never pick a guy for that reason – it would be stupid to bugger around a guy’s career.
“I think … it’s about the plans that we make, and we certainly did our analysis properly on them. But I know they would’ve done the same, and they can’t be where they are currently if they don’t do that.
“It will be great to see on Saturday which of those tactics and plans work. We are fairly confident and I know they are fairly confident, so it will be a great match-up.”