Rassie unfazed as Irish radio host mocks him for his ‘giant rugby brain’

Ireland under pressure to beat Scotland, says South Africa's director of rugby

04 October 2023 - 14:12
South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.

South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, in characteristic fashion, has ruffled some feathers at the Rugby World Cup after warning Ireland of a possible exit as three teams battle to qualify for the quarterfinals from the Springboks' pool B. 

Erasmus, in a press conference this week, pointed to the proximity in points between the Boks and Ireland, with Scotland added to the mix in a complex set of permutations. Ireland meet Scotland in their final pool B game at Stade de France on Saturday (9pm). 

The Springboks have 15 points, Ireland 14 and Scotland 10.

“If Scotland beat Ireland by eight points or more and Ireland don’t get a bonus point, then Ireland are out of the tournament,” Erasmus pointed out.

“With full humbleness, there is no arrogance in saying this, but we would rather sit here [with 15 points having completed their pool B matches] than being Ireland knowing we have been number one in the world all the time and Scotland basically have to beat them by eight points and they are out of the tournament. The score can be 20-12 and they are out of the competition.”

If all three teams finish on 15 log points, requiring a win for Scotland on Saturday, and both them and Ireland getting a bonus point, the Boks will be on the plane home with an inferior points difference to the other two teams.

Erasmus's remarks did not go down well with everyone. Irish radio host and sports commentator Ger Gilroy mocked Erasmus on the Off The Ball radio show, saying the South African's comments came across as arrogant given the Boks could not beat Ireland. The Springboks' only defeat of the 2023 tournament was against the Irish, 13-8 in Paris just more than two weeks ago.

Gilroy did not appreciate Erasmus' predictions of possible outcomes and mocked him, saying the Boks official had been trying to show off his “giant rugby brain”.

“You could have beaten us by eight points if you wanted to and denied us a losing bonus point and made us all very worried about what the future holds but you could not do it Rassie, could you? Oh no, ‘I have to show the world my giant rugby brain’,” Gilroy said on radio.

Erasmus was not bothered by Gilroy’s comments and responded by posting on X: “This man is so funny, how does he do that voice? Top entertainment.” 

Erasmus said the Boks had some time to recover and prepare for the quarterfinals. 

“We are probably at this stage the most comfortable knowing we have a two weeks' rest, maybe we have a six-month rest if the cart does not fall our way [and the Boks exit].” 

Erasmus, with his original assessment that Ireland need to be cautious against Scotland, was probably sending a message to the Irish.

All the Boks really need to progress is for Ireland to beat Scotland. By reminding the Irish their place was not safe, Erasmus most likely was providing a motivational message to the Shamrocks.

All the World Cup pools, fixtures and results here.

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