British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has lauded Rassie Erasmus for his accomplishments as coach of Munster and the Springboks.
Erasmus was at Munster from 2016 to 2017 and propelled the side to the PRO14 final and the European Champions Cup semi-finals that season. But he decided to quit the Irish club to return to home, where he initially planned to be SA Rugby’s director of rugby.
However, when things took a turn for the worse for the Springboks under Allister Coetzee, Erasmus took on the added responsibility of head coach attempting to turn the national team’s fortunes around. Just 20 shorts months and a mere 26 Tests later, Erasmus led the Springboks to World Cup glory in Japan.
Speaking as a guest on SkySports rugby show programme The Breakdown, Gatland said Erasmus is one of the international coaches he respects most.
‘Probably one of the guys I respect is Rassie Erasmus with South Africa. I really like his philosophy with the game and his attitude,’ Gatland said.
‘I’ve got a huge amount of respect for the job he did at Munster and obviously he’s done a fantastic job since he went back to South Africa. I enjoy conversations with him and enjoy coaching against him as well.’
Gatland also opened up on his so-called rivalry and perceived strained relationship with Eddie Jones.
‘I loved beating Eddie Jones. It’s always nice to get one up on him. But we’ve been out for dinner a few times and the whole media thing is just a game,’ Gatland explained.
‘You’ll get asked a question and you might give a response to it. And they’ll [the media] use your answer, which he’ll respond to. Before the Six Nations, we’ll go out to dinner and just have a laugh to what happens in the media.
‘It’s just part of it. Before the Six Nations launch I’ll say, “Go in there Eddie and throw in a few grenades” and he’ll say the same to me as well,’ Gatland added.
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