Siya Kolisi has admitted that the Springboks will dearly miss Rassie Erasmus after the South African director of rugby was suspended from all rugby activities.
Erasmus is currently serving a two month ban from all rugby activities for his public video critique of referee Nic Berry after the first British and Irish Lions test, while he is also banned from all match-day activities until September next year.
South Africa Rugby and Erasmus have stated that they will appeal World Rugby’s decision, but at the very least, the World Cup-winning coach will be unavailable for the Springboks’ encounter with England today.
Springboks captain Kolisi was speaking about the impact Erasmus has had on the side at a press conference and admitted that the director of rugby’s absence will be felt by himself and his fellow players.
Siya Kolisi on Rassie Erasmus’ absence.
“It will be tough. His presence makes a huge difference to us as a group. His insight in rugby and the stuff he sees that we don’t see on the field, because he is someone who has played rugby at this level,” Kolisi said, via SARugbyMag.
“He also motivates us and talks to us on the side of the field. When the subs are made and you might get taken off early, all you are thinking is where you went wrong, but he is always there to chat to us and let us know why you went off at that time. It makes a huge difference because he knows we are competitive and want to give our best.
“I got taken off plenty of times early in the game and people asked why the captain went off so early, but he will tell me straight, ‘we felt you were tired and it’s as simple as that’.
“So that makes a huge difference and we will miss him. But I know that coaching staff and coach [Mzwandile] Stick have plans around how we can work around that as a group.”
— Springboks (@Springboks) November 20, 2021
The Springboks must learn to live without their director of rugby.
While Erasmus could be back involved with the Springboks before their first test match of 2022 if his appeal is successful, it is more likely that he will be unavailable to them on match days for the majority of the year.
World Rugby are clearly keen on taking a strong stance against any inappropriate public criticism of their referees, with the referee in question, Nic Berry, saying he felt Erasmus’ video was a “character assassination” of him.
The Springboks were without Erasmus for their four Rugby Championship matches that took place in Australia this year, although he was still in contact with the team through video calls.
South Africa still have their head coach in Jacques Nienaber, but it is fair to say that much of the Springboks’ recent success can be attributed to Erasmus’ influence.