Former British & Irish Lions coach Clive Woodward has fired back at Rassie Erasmus, saying the SA director of rugby is hot and bothered in comparison to Warren Gatland’s “statesmanlike” behaviour.
Earlier in the week, Woodward suggested a lack of demarcation between the roles of director of rugby (Erasmus) and head coach Jacques Nienaber is “killing the Springboks”.
“Erasmus is still coaching the team in all but name, but that’s not his job. He needs to butt out. He has become centre stage again. All the pre-match banter is conducted between him and Gatland – and Warren is eating him for breakfast,” he wrote in a column.
On Tuesday, Erasmus responded to Woodward’s unsolicited comments by saying: “I don’t think ‘Sir’ is such a big thing here.
“I wouldn’t listen too much to Clive Woodward. He doesn’t really matter to me.”
Now the verbal sparring has continued, with Woodward addressing Erasmus in a second column published in the Daily Mail, making a scornful comparison between the South African and Lions boss Gatland.
“While Rassie Erasmus has been getting all hot and bothered on Twitter, the Lions have been concentrating on getting their most important selection of the tour correct,” wrote Woodward.
“Erasmus is proving a bad distraction for South Africa while Warren Gatland has been statesmanlike as he prepares a squad looking to close out the series. Neither side produced their A game last week – not for the full 80 minutes – so I am not surprised the Lions have made a few tweaks.”
Meanwhile, former Ireland and British & Irish Lions great Brian O’Driscoll has weighed in on the saga, saying Erasmus is “better than” the Twitter storm which is proving to be a sub-plot to the Test series.
“I don’t get it at all. He’s the World Cup-winning coach. He’s better than that,” O’Driscoll told the Daily Mail.
“The problem is if they lose again … there’s only so many goes you have at taking the flak yourself. In South Africa they’ll forget past victories quickly if you lose a series 2-0 or 3-0.
“You have to be careful if your tack is doing the Jose Mourinho thing of you being the sound bite or the story, rather than your players’ lack of performance.”
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