Outspoken South Africa chief Rassie Erasmus turns up the heat for Rugby World Cup quarter-final by suggesting hosts France ‘simulate’ to win penalties
- South Africa director of rugby has accusing France of ‘simulation’ tactics
- Italy had try ruled out following a high hit on France scrum-half Maxime Lucu
- His comments will increase the pressure on Sunday’s referee Ben O’Keeffe
South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus lit the fuse on his team’s World Cup quarter-final with France by accusing the tournaments hosts’ players of simulation.
The Springboks – the defending champions after claiming global glory in Japan in 2019 – will be underdogs when they take on Fabien Galthie’s Les Bleus on Sunday night.
Ahead of the hotly-anticipated game at the Stade de France, Erasmus aired his belief France’s players are ‘clever’ at making it clear to referees if they believe they are tackled illegally.
‘I think the French are not playing a reckless game where they are on the edge of being too physical,’ said the 50-year-old, who has been no stranger to making headlines since 2019.
‘What they do well is that when they get close to the high hits, they really show that to the referee.
South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has accused France of ‘simulation’ tactics
Italy had a try ruled out following a high hit on France scrum-half Maxime Lucu last week
‘They do simulate sometimes a little bit which is clever and obviously works.
‘I think they’re very clear at that, very good at that.’
Erasmus regularly airs his views on rugby’s big issues on social media.
On the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa, he released an hour-long video hitting out at refereeing decisions.
His latest comment surrounding France is sure to raise tensions ahead of what is a mouthwatering last-eight clash.
It is unclear what specific incidents involving French players Erasmus was referring to.
But one may well have been a tackle on scrum-half Maxime Lucu by an Italian player as the Azzurri pushed for a try against France in the two team’s final Pool A clash at this World Cup.
Lucu was hit high and made that clear. The result was an Italian try being ruled out.
France lock Thibaud Flament said simulation is not something that characterises their play
Another similar clash took place between France flanker Anthony Jelonch and Australia’s Marika Koroibete in a Test in July 2021.
Erasmus’ comments will only serve to increase the pressure on New Zealand official Ben O’Keeffe who will be the referee in the France and South Africa game this weekend.
Asked for a response to Erasmus’ views, France lock Thibaud Flament said: ‘It’s not something I’ve really noticed. I think all teams seem to do it.
‘It’s not something we prepare specifically or try and do. I don’t think it’s something that characterises our play.’
South Africa have a fully fit squad to pick from for France.
Les Bleus are set to recall captain and scrum-half Antoine Dupont for the quarter-final after he recovered from cheekbone surgery.
Erasmus’ comments will increase the pressure on referee Ben O’Keeffe for Sunday’s game
‘I don’t think lack of fitness will be a problem. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen him sweat on the field,’ Erasmus said of Dupont.
‘He’s so emotionless when he plays and he always looks so in control.
‘Obviously he’s the captain and the whole of France – the whole world – has respect for him.
‘I’ve no doubt he will play and he’ll be a big challenge for us.’
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