It is a move straight from the Rassie Erasmus playbook
There’s many a way to pass a message onto the field these days. Ear pieces, water carriers and plain old shouting to name a few. But the South Africa coaches had a unique approach against Scotland utilising traffic light signals to influence the team’s decision-making on the field.
When the Springboks were awarded a first-half penalty in a good attacking position the TV cameras panned to the South Africa coaching box where assistant Felix Jones, who is joining Steve Borthwick’s England after the tournament, raised a red traffic light. South Africa fly-half Manie Libbok then pointed to the posts to indicate he wanted to have a shot at goal.
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Libbok slotted the three points, having missed an earlier attempt with much made about his fluctuating fortunes off the tee. However, the use of the light certainly caught the eye with the red signal clearly meant to inform on-field captain Siya Kolisi that the powers that be wanted him to take the points on offer.
There even was a second incident following shortly after, this time Rassie Erasmus himself had the light in hand and again South Africa opted to kick at goal.
While for the majority of the Rugby World Cup 2023 viewers watching around the world, it may have been the first time they’d seen this unique tactic it is said to be an Erasmus favourite. When he was the Cheetahs coach he once flashed lights from the roof of the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
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The use of the light caused a stir on social media and divided opinion. Some onlookers thought it was effective communication and a smart ploy while others were not so impressed.
One X (formerly Twitter) user said: “Definitely a Signal to take the 3. Too much like NFL for me! Trust the leaders in the heat of battle. #lettheboysplay.”
Another added: “We use lights… Other teams use radio’s.”
A third said: “South Africa using an incredible high-tech traffic light system device as a means of communication.. Rassie really does know all the tricks.”
After the game when questioned about the tactic, South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber revealed they use it because crowd noise often makes it hard to be heard.