Rassie Erasmus says it’s sad that some people saw something ‘negative’ and misread the situation involving Makazole Mapimpi and a celebration huddle for bench players after Friday’s match against Italy.
A video from the Springboks’ post-match celebrations following their win over Italy on Friday went viral after it showed the Bok replacements in a huddle while Mapimpi walked away.
Many people jumped to conclusions on social media, suggesting Mapimpi had not been included based on racial reasons. Frans Steyn came under fire in particular for appearing to shoo Mapimpi. However, Mapimpi himself took to social media to explain the situation and set the record straight.
Speaking after naming the Bok team to face Canada, Erasmus further clarified the situation and said that the incident was part of an in-joke between Steyn and Lood de Jager
‘It does bother me a little bit, that people would see negatives in that,’ Erasmus said. ‘Everybody who has been part of a touring side, or Springbok side, knows that, in a squad of 31 there are guys that make the matchday 23 and the eight guys outside that 23 are called the dirt trackers. They are guys that help you prepare for the Test match.
‘Then you get the starting 15 and the reserves. They call themselves different names. On this tour, they call themselves the bomb squad. That is because when they come in they must either fix something that might be going wrong or it is a false alarm. So it is kind of a standing joke in the team.
‘For the whole week, the joke was that Lood de Jager was out of the bomb squad. So it was a thing of Lood not being part of the bomb squad anymore, because he was always on the bench to that point. So it was a joke that he didn’t qualify for the bomb squad anymore.’
Erasmus further explained that Mapimpi had simply seen that the Bok replacements group was getting together and had decided to turn around. Steyn’s hand gesture that can be seen in the video was directed at De Jager, who had a been a regular part of the bench before the World Cup.
‘It was the end of the game, the bomb squad was getting together,’ Erasmus added. ‘Lood was on his way there and Frans Steyn told Lood that he is not part of the bomb squad anymore. It was a joke. Mapimpi was on his way to that group and saw it was the bomb squad and just turned around.
‘It is so sad that somebody could see something negative in that. I can give you my word, I as a head coach would not allow anything like that in the team. There is nothing like that in the team. For those that want to see something negative, I guess they will find something negative.
‘I can guarantee 95% of people in South Africa who wants to know the truth that it is the truth. There will never be something where a team member cannot be part of a huddle. That was a private joke between Frans and Lood not being part of the bomb squad because he has made the starting lineup.’
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