South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has denied he has been using a Twitter ‘burner account’ to air his views about controversial incidents in the first Test defeat to the Lions.
The man who coached the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2019 has been interacting with an account called ‘Jaco Johan’, leading people to suspect he has been operating it himself.
Erasmus first retweeted a video shared by ‘Jaco Johan’ which highlighted questionable tackles from the Lions in their game against South Africa A.
He then had more interactions with the account following the ‘Boks 22-17 first Test defeat at Cape Town Stadium.
The ‘Jaco Johan’ account - which features no profile picture - shared another video highlighting debatable incidents from the first Test, to which Erasmus replied: “Thanks. This is rugby - sometimes calls go for you and other times they don’t.”
He also replied to ‘Jaco Johan’ to say there were some questionable calls in the game which he would highlight.
Since then, social media has been filled with conjecture that Erasmus is running the account himself.
So at Tuesday’s team announcement media call, he was asked outright if he was Jaco Johan and why he had been so vocal on Twitter.
“That is actually why I am at this press conference,” he replied.
“No, I am not Jaco Johan, I am Rassie Erasmus.
“I actually follow Jaco Johan, he is a big supporter of us and he’s been feeding me some really good clips for a while now, some really good things that I have used in part.
“So he’s a very big supporter, a really funny guy and I quite enjoy the things that he does.
“Why I am so active on Twitter, well I retweeted two or three that I really thought were accurate and then I tweeted twice myself for simple reasons.”
He then pointed to the incident in the first Test where Mako Vunipola lifted Cheslin Kolbe to his feet after the South African winger had gone to the deck after a collision.
“I thought the way Cheslin was picked up off the ground could have been a serious injury,” he said.
“We teach our children from any age or level that you leave a player as he is there, because it is dangerous.
“We wouldn’t like our Springbok players to pick up every Lions player that is down on his back.
“I thought that was an important one to get out there while we had the opportunity.
“My other Tweet was me saying I thought the Lions really deserved the win.
“It was only those two tweets. Then obviously, I did retweet a few things from a few guys that I thought were spot on.
“When something makes sense to me, I like to retweet it.”
Erasmus also gave his thoughts on the issues raised by the Lions over South African Marius Jonker being appointed TMO for the Test series.
“When Warren talked last week about Marius Jonker, it was weird for me that people would question Marius’ integrity,” he said.
“The referee this week is Ben O’Keefe, who is a New Zealander and so is Warren, but we would never say that. It wouldn’t sit well. The integrity of the game would be questioned.”
Erasmus added: “I was baffled when Marius was appointed as the TMO.
“I am very good friends with him, I know him really well.
“I made a point of not phoning him before the match, as I felt it was such a tough thing for him to do.
“But when he was mentioned because he is South African, that didn’t sit well with me, to be honest with you.
“If Ben O’Keefe does a wrong decision on Saturday, you wouldn’t hear us say it is because he is a New Zealander and Warren Gatland is a New Zealander.
“One must stay away from those things.”
Erasmus was also asked about Sir Clive Woodward saying he needed to take a step back and allow his successor Jacques Nienaber to coach the team.
“That is his opinion,” he said.
“I am the water carrier. Jacques is higher than me in the rank.
“We have worked together since 1990. It is working really well
“I wouldn’t listen too much to Sir Clive Woodward. He doesn’t really matter to me.”
Commenting on the Springboks being 1-0 down in the three-match series, Erasmus said: “We have been in positions like this before.
“In the World Cup, we lost the first game against the All Black and had to win the next six.
“We have our backs against the wall.
“We knew we were going to be a little bit underdone with one of the Georgian Test matches being cancelled.
“Hopefully, we will have the wind and the breath to go 80 minutes this week.”
The Springboks have made three changes from the first Test, with Stephen Kitshoff replacing the injured Ox Nche at loosehead prop, while tighthead Frans Malherbe and Leicester No 8 Jasper Wiese also come into the pack and it’s back to the “bomb squad” 6-2 split on the bench.
The full team news is here.
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