Former Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy has admitted he was wrong to criticise Rassie Erasmus for his decision to leave Munster.
The legendary inside centre, who played for Ireland and the British & Irish Lions, hit out at Erasmus after it was confirmed that the South African was set to vacate his position as Munster head coach to return home to fill the position of SA Rugby director of rugby and also later head coach of the Springboks.
But in the wake of Erasmus’ World Cup triumph with the all-conquering Springboks, D’Arcy has written an ode to the Bok boss, admitting to being too quick to judge.
‘I was very harsh on Rassie following his exit from Limerick,’ D’Arcy writes.
‘How could he do this to Munster in their time of need? Irish rugby needed him as well, and he deserted them at their most vulnerable moment. This view became entrenched. It was held by me and others on this small island. It was our perspective.
‘It has always been a bugbear of mine that somebody says one thing and does another. Erasmus was clear after the 2017 Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Saracens: I am staying. That he departed a few weeks later became an easy stick to beat him with but I never stalled to look at it from his perspective.
‘Like, why did he leave South Africa and his job with SA Rugby in the first place? And what had happened in the meantime? Clearly, they came to their senses. That allowed him to negotiate from a position of strength. He demanded enough power to deliver the Holy Grail.
‘I know a few South Africans and every one of them oozes patriotism. So how could Rassie not answer the call?
‘I’m sure there were moments when he agonised over the decision. “No, I committed to Munster and they have embraced me as one of their own” (don’t think that will ever change) … all the while an internal voice must have been reminding him of a sense of duty. It is the ultimate job for a former Springbok.
‘Erasmus instantly changed the perception of the Springbok brand, but he did it for the right reasons. Kolisi wasn’t named captain because he was black and could get in the team. Kolisi was named captain because he was the natural leader.
‘England played their best game in the semi-final and that is the luck of the draw. They had to peak to overcome the All Blacks and hope that South Africa remained the same as the performance that saw off Wales. Of course, we now know, the Boks were building all the time.
‘I agree with Ronan O’Gara’s comments on the simplicity of their approach to winning the World Cup. The core values of set-piece dominance were the bedrock of their success. We are now acutely aware that the modern game rewards size. Having big men who could dominate the collisions even against Billy Vunipola was how England were broken. Literally, broken.
‘We can only imagine the mental power source they plugged into to produce that performance against England.’
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