The South African director of rugby has been active on social media
Rassie Erasmus tweets take narrative of Lions tour online
It began with a magnanimous gesture from South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus taking to Twitter to congratulate the British & Irish Lions for their victory in the opening Test of their series with the Boks. The Rugby World Cup-winning coach said: “No excuses this side! You are far away from home, families and going through same tough covid protocols like we do! Congrats and well deserved!”
Related: Lions beat Springboks in first Test
However, just days later, the Boks boss took to the social media platform to point to one incident in the game that he felt needed highlighting.
He tweeted: “Cheslin is obviously played in the air and clearly not direct into touch!!More importantly for youngsters watching this clip!!!! Please never move or touch an injured player on the ground, its reckless and dangerous! Leave this to the (hospital emoji).”
What is particularly interesting is that just the day before, Erasmus was also quote-tweeting an account called ‘Jaco Johan’ that uses very similar software to break down match footage as the coach – but added himself, “Thanks. This is rugby – sometimes calls go for you and other times they don’t.”
It has been widely suggested that this is in fact a burner account run by Erasmus – with many pointing to historical likes from the account on content about Munster Rugby, where Erasmus and his head coach Jacques Nienaber used to work, as well as the fact that Jaco is a shortened version of the name Jacques and the Erasmus’s birth name is Johan.
Whether this is the case or not, it is a digital twist on the battle of the narratives in this Lions series.
Before the first Test, the Lions camp made clear their displeasure at Marius Jonker stepping in as TMO for the game. After the Lions’ victory, many wondered aloud if this impacted any of the huge TMO calls by Jonker in first Lions Test.
Lions boss Warren Gatland has since described the Boks as “desperate” following their loss, saying: “(Winning) relieves a bit of pressure but the expectation is still the same and the pressure reverts a little bit to South Africa because they are going to be incredibly desperate. We think there is another level in us, (I’m) not sure where that momentum is going to come from (for the Springboks). I think our defence has been excellent on this tour and has continued to improve.
“You’ve got to embrace that expectation. I said to the players beforehand, I get incredibly excited about these big games, finals and Test series, because I love seeing the desire of the top players; how much they want to win these big matches. There is expectation and we should embrace that expectation and expect ourselves to improve from the first Test. Hopefully, we will have won the series by next week.”
Whether it’s via new media or traditional channels, the talking won’t stop ahead of the second Test.
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