Rassie Erasmus hits back at Warren Gatland as war of words escalates
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DURBAN - The war of words between Rassie Erasmus and Warren Gatland has ratcheted up a notch, with the Springbok boss reviving his old hobby horse of the controversial tackling technique of Owen Farrell, the B&I Lions flyhalf who can make Butch James look like a choir boy.
Director of Rugby Erasmus is back in the spotlight as the de facto coach of the Boks because Jacques Nienaber is in Covid-enforced isolation, and he has not taken kindly to Gatland’s insistence that Faf de Klerk should have been given a red card for his armless charge on a Lions player during the South Africa A game earlier this week.
The scrumhalf was yellow carded but Gatland says it should have been more and has called on officials to provide “clarity, alignment and consistency” in this area of the game.
Gatland has also had a dig at Erasmus’ role as waterboy — a thinly disguised cover to get messages to his players — advising Rassie to remember to take the water when he goes on to the field.
Erasmus has retaliated by posting two clips on social media of Farrell committing what appear to be illegal charges on his players.
In the first clip, Farrell seems to be shoulder charging No 8 Jasper Wiese, making contact around the neck area, and Erasmus adds: “While you at it, please get clarity on this also!”
The World Cup-winning coach then shows a video of Farrell clutching De Klerk high and flinging him about. His sarcastic caption is: “If there is time, maybe also get clarity and alignment on this one, please. I know it is way after the whistle, but let’s just align and get clarity to be sure.”
Farrell and Erasmus, of course, go back a long way. They have been bosom buddies since November 2018 when Farrell shoulder-charged Andre Esterhuizen towards the end of a Test match at Twickenham. The Boks were heavily on attack and had referee Angus Gardner punished Farrell, Handre Pollard would almost certainly have nailed the winning points. Instead, England won 21-11.
Gardner later admitted he had erred but it did not stop the incensed Erasmus from posting a bizarre “training video” in which he coaches Esterhuien how to tackle high and without his arms.