Rassie Erasmus is without a doubt one of the brightest rugby brains South Africa has ever produced. You could call him a true student of the game. As a player, he was shrewd in addition to being a ridiculously talented loose-forward, and that shrewdness has been developed significantly since entering the coaching arena!
He’s got the unenviable job though of putting Springbok rugby back on the winning path as well as the added responsibility of putting structures in place that will benefit and strengthen South African rugby at all levels.
But what do we know about Rassie Erasmus, the man?
During his tenure as Stormers coach about a decade ago, I had my first interaction with him (at a Stellenbosch night club of all places for a cocktail event) after he was confirmed as the man in charge of Western Province and the Stormers. He’s an approachable and palatable man, with that traditional values coming through strongly in his demeanor and interaction with people. No doubt just some of the values he will incorporate in the Springbok culture going forward.
When I sat down to have a conversation with him, he offered to get me a drink (seemingly not realizing his far superior status to mine, which again underlines those traditional values I spoke about), and when we started chatting, I could again observe how much he thinks about the game and how much emphasis he places on getting the details the right. He’s of the belief that when you get the little things right, the bigger things will fall into place.
Erasmus is a true patriot and has expressed in many press conferences over the years about his love for South Africa and how much he loves being a South African.
When he was confirmed as Bok coach a few weeks ago, he again reinforced this statement saying, he believes in this country and the people living in it … and when it comes to rugby, he believes there is an abundance of talent in the country to take the Springboks to the top again.
So then, how does Erasmus see the road ahead to the 2019 World Cup?
He summed it up with this quote: “We have 18 tests and just under 600 days until Japan 2019 and although a lot of planning has already gone into our Rugby World Cup preparation, it is very important that we prepare thoroughly for the matches against Wales and England in June. It is a huge task to coach the Springboks and I am very privileged.”
*Erasmus’ first task is to lead the Springboks to victory in a one-off test against Wales in Washington on the 2nd of June.