Rassie: Why I’ve been active on Twitter

Rassie Erasmus has explained the reasoning behind his social-media engagements, while denying that a separate Twitter account is run by him as some onlookers have suspected. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

Following the Springboks’ defeat by the British & Irish Lions in the opening Test this past Saturday, Erasmus first took to Twitter to say that there could be “no excuses”, while also stating that the visitors were “deserved” winners.

On Monday, he also grabbed some attention when he retweeted a video from a Twitter handle with the name ‘Jaco Johan’, which highlighted several refereeing inconsistencies. Erasmus stated that “sometimes calls go for you and other times they don’t”.

However, some suspicion and speculation was quickly raised on social media that it could be Erasmus himself running the account to somewhat surreptitiously bring certain issues into the spotlight.

It was pointed out that the account had zero followers, but access to relatively high-quality, unwatermarked footage analysis.

On Tuesday, Erasmus also again tweeted from his @RassieRugby Twitter account to highlight how Cheslin Kolbe had been played in the air in an incident that was overlooked by officials. He also pointed out how Mako Vunipola had recklessly picked Kolbe up from the ground when he could have been injured.

Interestingly, and with all this in mind, Erasmus fronted up at Tuesday’s team announcement media conference alongside Jacques Nienaber with a willingness to address all the off-field speculation – which followed a direct question if he was in fact ‘Jaco Johan’ on Twitter.

“It’s actually why I’m at the press conference. I was feeling sorry for Jacques because I knew he would probably get that question. I’m actually not Jaco Johan, I’m Johan Erasmus.

“I follow Jaco Johan because he is a big supporter of us and he’s been feeding me some really good clips for a while now. These are some things I’ve used in the past, he’s actually a big supporter and a really funny guy.

“And as to why I’m so active on Twitter, well, I just retweeted one or two things that I thought were quite accurate. As director of rugby, the medical department is also part of that role and we have the BokSmart programme aimed at player safety.

“I just thought the way Cheslin was picked up off the ground while on the ground was dangerous considering he could have been injured.

“We teach our primary school children from any age-group level to leave a player alone if they are injured, and we wouldn’t want our Springbok players to go and start picking up Lions players this weekend if they are lying on their back injured. So, I just felt it was an important one to get out there …

“I did retweet a few other things I thought were spot on, which is the same as last year. A guy like Squidge Rugby is someone I enjoy, and so when something makes sense to me I like to retweet it.”

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Craig Lewis