The two once competed for the Springbok No 8 jersey, but Bob Skinstad has jumped to the defence of former national team rival Rassie Erasmus.
Skinstad was speaking during a guest appearance on the Evening Standard’s Rugby Podcast, during which he was asked about the Springboks’ director of rugby.
Erasmus recently completed a second ban handed to him by World Rugby for criticising match officials on social media after the losses to France and Ireland. The World Cup-winning coach was suspended in 2021 after a 62-minute video of him questioning calls made by referee Nic Berry during the British & Irish Lions series went viral on social media.
Having competed with Erasmus at a domestic and national team level during his playing days, former Springbok loose forward Skinstad defended Erasmus’ character.
“Rassie and I competed for the same position for ten years and there was zero love lost,” Skinstad began.
“I can say that honestly, he is a bloody good guy and he is a very intelligent, very hard-working, good rugby man. So we liked each other but we wanted to whack the hell out of each other every time we played against each other. We played in finals against each other, we literally competed for the same jersey and I liked him.
“I don’t think he has taken away from the victory [over England] at all. He does have his own sideshow and he will attract blame for that. Eddie Jones has also worked a platform and his platform has been traditional media and he plays it like the violin and he has done it seriously well.”
The issue was raised that Erasmus’ actions on Twitter could backfire on the Springboks during the 2023 World Cup in France, especially due to the abuse of Wayne Barnes that followed.
“Let me just unequivocally say any verbal, physical, written abuse that has gone on to referees, whether it is Wayne Barnes and his family or whatever, is disgusting,” said Skinstad. “But I don’t think you can attribute the blame for all of that directly at Rassie trying to protect his team. Those are two different issues.
“I’m with you: I don’t think it [Twitter] is a platform that you should be using to criticise referees so we agree on that but he is posting it because he is trying to help South Africa to win – which is his primary job.
“What I will say is I will defend Rassie saying, ‘My No1 is the South African rugby team and if that is what I need to do to protect the South African rugby team I will do it’.
“If you look at his internal coaching staff, how many people have gone, how many people have moved away because of him being a horrible, vicious person? Zero. The players, they are unequivocal, he is doing what he thinks is best to help us to win rugby games and I can respect that.”
Photo: Morgan Treacy/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix