Rassie Erasmus on Kolisi captaincy decision: ‘I lost a lot of friends when I made Siya captain’

SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has recalled the backlash he received when naming Siya Kolisi as Springbok captain.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Mail, Rassie Erasmus spoke both about his decision to install Kolisi as the Springboks’ first ever black skipper in 2018, as well as how he felt Kolisi was treated by Australian referee Nic Berry in the opening Test against the British & Irish Lions in 2020.

Rassie Erasmus revealed abuse at Siya Kolisi decision

Warren Whiteley was the incumbent Springbok captain at the time, but his injury paved the way for a new captain.

“Before the first Test I had a meeting with the match officials,” Rassie Erasmus said.

“I explained to the referee that the Springboks had not played for two years since the World Cup and our captain Siya Kolisi would be up against a team with four international captains.

“I knew from experience how they intimidate referees, so I asked that he must give Siya the same respect as Alun Wyn Jones, to which he agreed. People outside of South Africa might not understand this fully but having a black Springbok captain is a flammable situation in our country.

“I lost a lot of friends when I made Siya captain. There was a lot of nastiness. Before the World Cup, my daughters’ friends’ parents would say, ‘Tell that f****** father of yours to stop sucking up for a pay cheque.’ People said it was political. The fight to get people to believe in Siya was a real struggle.

“I’m not saying Nic Berry is racist. Absolutely not. 100 percent. I actually think he is a cool guy. But when you are in a volatile country with 54 million black people and six million white people then you at least need a conversation. I didn’t understand why Siya’s messages weren’t getting through: do they think he’s an a**hole?,” Rassie Erasmus concluded.

↯↯↯Read More On The Topic On TDPel Media ↯↯↯