South Africa boss Erasmus denies Twitter alter-ego and blasts Woodward

Another surreal twist in the Rassie Erasmus roadshow! South Africa boss DENIES having a Twitter alter-ego and then blasts Sportsmail’s Sir Clive Woodward as the pressure cranks up before the second Test with the Lions

  • South Africa rugby director Rassie Erasmus denied having a Twitter alter-ego
  • He has been retweeting posts from a mystery ‘Jaco Johan’ account on Twitter
  • He also slammed Sportsmail’s Sir Clive Woodward for his column on Monday
  • Erasmus also took aim at refereeing integrity ahead of the second Lions Test

The Rassie Erasmus Roadshow continued on Tuesday. What was supposed to be a routine team announcement with South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber descended into an unfiltered charge at refereeing integrity, Sir Clive Woodward and mysterious activity on social media.

Erasmus, the South African director of rugby, has taken to Twitter this week to voice his disapproval about a number of decisions in the first Test.

He has been retweeting posts from a mystery ‘Jaco Johan’ account — and on Tuesday he kicked off the show by denying rumours that he is the man behind the posts.

South Africa rugby director Rassie Erasmus went on the offensive in his Tuesday media call

He retweeted a video the user uploaded which highlighted incidents that didn’t go their way

‘That’s actually why I’m at the press conference,’ said Erasmus, as soon as the floor was opened to questions. ‘I’m actually not Jaco Johan. I’m Rassie Erasmus. I follow Jaco Johan. He’s a big supporter of us and a really funny guy. He’s been feeding me some really good clips for a while now.

‘Why am I so active on Twitter? I just retweeted two or three things I thought were accurate. I tweeted twice just for a simple reason: as director of rugby, the medical department is part of our department. When something makes sense to me I like to retweet it.

‘I thought the way Cheslin Kolbe was picked off the ground (by Mako Vunipola) could have been a serious injury.

‘We teach our schoolchildren that you leave a player as he is, because it is dangerous (to pick them up). We wouldn’t like our players this Saturday to pick up every Lions player who is on their back.’

Erasmus was not even scheduled to be there on Zoom. He was a late addition — but quickly became the main event. He said that complaints were lodged through the official World Rugby channel but they did not hear back for days.

‘We tried to do that on Sunday but they didn’t come back to us,’ he added. ‘On Monday they didn’t come back to us. This morning we got the report back. So that takes a bit of a while. When you get it only on a Tuesday morning it does disrupt your week.’

Ersamus also responded to an anonymous account who had outlined ‘questionable calls’

Lions head coach Warren Gatland kept his counsel during his press conference — despite the presence of a faceless user named ‘Jaco Johan’ on the call.

In contrast, Erasmus went on the offensive. Responding to Sir Clive Woodward’s Sportsmail column that he needs to take a backwards step and allow full control to Nienaber, he said: ‘I don’t know if “Sir” is so important in South Africa as it is in England. That is just his opinion and myself and Jacques are great mates.

‘I am the water carrier. Jacques is higher than me in the rank. We have always worked together since the military in 1990.

‘You look at Saturday, in minute 71 we score a try that is pulled back and if it was not people would be saying the relationship is perfect. So I wouldn’t listen to too much of Clive Woodward. He doesn’t matter to me.’

Erasmus has been happy to cast himself as the pantomime villain in the build-up to the second Test.

Erasmus criticised Sir Clive Woodward’s column, where he told the South African to step back

Director of rugby Erasmus has been a water carrier for South Africa so far in this Lions Tour

He even added his voice to the murmurs of discontent around the appointment of South African Marius Jonker as TMO. His comments were like an iron fist in a velvet glove, drawing attention to the fact that Kiwi referee Ben O’Keeffe hails from the same country as Gatland.

‘I was baffled when Marius was appointed as the TMO,’ he said. ‘I’m close friends with Marius. But I felt that because he’s South African, doing it for our team, that didn’t sit well for me. But if Ben O’Keeffe makes wrong decisions on Saturday, you wouldn’t hear us saying it’s because he’s from New Zealand and so is Gatland. We try to stay away from those things.

‘In the past, we’ve found that when we talk in the media too much it normally backfires for us.’

The Boks are under pressure. Perhaps the circus is intended as a distraction from the win-or-bust nature of Saturday’s second Test. But Erasmus insisted everything is under control.

Erasmus noted Ben O’Keeffe, Saturday’s Test referee, is from New Zealand like Warren Gatland

‘We’ve been in positions like this before,’ he said. ‘At the World Cup we lost the first game to the All Blacks and had to win the next six to win the World Cup.

‘We’re definitely a team under pressure, you’re correct there. Last week was interesting. We were quiet in the media, focused and tried to keep the positive vibe going which the World Cup created, and tried not to say too much, then deliver on the Saturday. I thought the Lions were the opposite to us.

‘That’s why we’re taking things differently this week.’

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