Rassie Erasmus: From Rugby Maverick to Social Advocate

Rassie Erasmus: The Complex Figure Behind the Rugby Legend

Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby director of rugby, presents a paradoxical personality.

In his biography, he portrays himself as “a quiet, uncomplicated person,” which contradicts the extroverted image many have of him.

The Influential Decision-Maker:

Erasmus, a 50-year-old figure, evokes strong opinions.

While the head coach Jacques Nienaber plays an essential role, Erasmus has demonstrated his knack for astute selections.

His unconventional choice of the Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach half-back partnership over Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk in the 29-28 victory against France exemplified his brilliance.

The Dark Side:

However, Erasmus has also drawn controversy with his outbursts against referees and sarcastic tweets about them.

In 2021, World Rugby suspended him for 12 months following his harsh criticism of referee Nic Berry during the British and Irish Lions’ first Test.

He received an additional two-match ban for his tweets directed at Wayne Barnes after a match against France.

The Dynamic Duo:

Erasmus and Nienaber, who assumed the head coach role after the 2019 World Cup, present contrasting personalities.

Nienaber is the straight man in their partnership, while Erasmus is the charismatic scene-stealer.

Together, they revitalized the Springboks, and under Erasmus’s guidance, Siya Kolisi became the first black Test captain to lift the World Cup.

The Contradictory Orator:

Erasmus’s unfiltered language and disregard for consequences often conflict with his sensitivity stemming from his upbringing with an alcoholic father.

He recounted how he tried to protect his father during drunken episodes. These experiences marked him profoundly.

Apartheid’s Legacy:

Apartheid’s influence reached not only Erasmus’s family but also his rugby career.

Erasmus’s efforts to reform South African rugby included opening opportunities for underprivileged children under 15 to participate in the sport through the Elite Player Development (EPD) program.

This initiative bore fruit when players from the EPD contributed to the 2019 World Cup victory.

The Ultimate Achievement:

Erasmus emphasizes that his most significant accomplishment was not holding the World Cup but witnessing the players create and score tries in the final and trust each other.

The EPD program stood as his proudest achievement, a testament to his commitment to inclusivity and change.


Rassie Erasmus’s multifaceted character, as portrayed in his biography, challenges perceptions of the rugby legend.

His journey from outspoken coach to an advocate for social change reflects a complex individual who has left an indelible mark on the sport.

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