Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has confirmed Rassie Erasmus will resume duties as a ‘sideline assistant’ in this Saturday’s second Rugby Championship Test against Argentina. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
SA Rugby and Erasmus are currently preparing for an independent misconduct hearing related to his comments regarding match-official performance following the first Test between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions.
While a date for the full hearing has yet to be officially revealed by World Rugby, some reports have suggested the initial proceedings of the case could begin next week.
Erasmus will be represented by long-time lawyer Frikkie Erasmus, who has confirmed that a comprehensive charge sheet has been received from World Rugby.
Eagle-eyed onlookers would have noticed that Erasmus was not on the side of the field fulfilling duties as a ‘water carrier’ last weekend — as was the case throughout the Lions series — with Duane Vermeulen in fact stepping into that role.
However, Erasmus’ absence from Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was simply because he had taken some time to be with his family after an extended period away from home, both in the buildup to and during the Lions series.
Following the third Test against the touring team, Nienaber had highlighted how beneficial it had been to have Erasmus providing feedback from the side of the field.
“I’d love to take credit for substitutions, but it’s a team effort. It would be naive of me not to use Rassie, for example. I’ve been on the side of the field before when Rassie was in the box, and so when it comes to substitutions, we take everything into account.
“We discuss what Rassie has seen, what the medical team has assessed, how the players are feeling and if they’re getting into the battles we want them to.”
On Tuesday, after Nienaber named the team to face Argentina this weekend, he was asked whether Erasmus would be back with the team on Saturday as a ‘pitchside assistant’. The Bok coach responded in the affirmative and provided further details.
“Last week we had Duane doing the job. Rassie had a couple of things to do because he hasn’t been with his family. I was fortunate enough to have my family with me there in the bubble. But with Rassie, due to logistical reasons, his family couldn’t make it.
“So he had a little bit of a break, which is good to get refreshed. But he is back with us in the team, he came through all the correct protocols we have to do to get into the bubble. So he will be back on his post now.”