Rassie Erasmus calls for Springbok versus Lions rematch on Saturday

South Africa's stand-in coach says that replacing the Stormers with a Springbok A side as Lions opposition on Saturday is safer and better for the Test series

Rassie Erasmus wants South Africa A to play the Lions again on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Rassie Erasmus wants South Africa A to play the Lions again on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

RASSIE ERASMUS used this lunch-time’s Springbok ‘A’ team announcement for Wednesday’s match against the Lions as an opportunity to call for the two sides to meet again on Saturday, which would be instead of the tourists playing their scheduled game against the Stormers.

South Africa Rugby’s Director of Rugby, who is currently standing in as Springbok head coach while Jacques Nienaber is in Covid isolation, named a strong squad for Wednesday’s match, including 12 veterans from the World Cup Final victory over England in November 2019, meaning this will be comfortably the toughest challenge the Lions have faced yet on this tour.

Having lost the second of their two warm-up matches against Georgia last weekend due to the prevalence of Covid in both squads, the Springboks are keen to give their top players as much time in the saddle as possible to get match-fit and clicking as a unit, and another hit-out against the Lions at the weekend would be ideal in that regard.

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While Warren Gatland, speaking at almost exactly the same time, indicated that the Lions were not entertaining that proposal, Erasmus rather optimistically tried to appeal to the New Zealander’s sense of fair play, and also claimed that a re-match is the safest way to avoid any further Covid interruptions.

“This game is very important, and we’d like to have another game on Saturday to give ourselves the best choice, and to give the Lions an opportunity to play against the best possible Springbok side [during the Test series],” said Erasmus. “I don’t think they want to play against a team that didn’t have an opportunity to give our guys another chance, so we’re hoping for another game on Saturday.

“If we were in a position of being so powerful that we can just change it then we would just ask Warren and the team to have another SA ‘A’ game on Saturday,” he added.

“My view is that this will be the safest. We’ve been tested negative now two days in a row. We don’t have a positive case in our squad currently. We are sitting in our Cape Town hotel, we have a totally hard bubble with nobody moving anywhere. Everybody is negative, the British & Irish squad is negative, and my honest opinion is that if they are going to play against the Stormers or the Sharks, or we play against the Sharks coming in, the chance of infection is as good as we had when we played Georgia.

“Up until the Georgian Test match we had one case, and after the Georgian Test match we had eight management alone positive. So, the moment you bring teams from the outside in – not that I am pointing fingers at Georgia – I am just saying it is a very different situation to control.

“If the two of us can play an SA ‘A’ game on Wednesday and another one on Saturday, I think medically, for player welfare, and also for the spectators, it will be wonderful to have two good match-ups, and I’m sure Warren and the guys wouldn’t be afraid or scared or say no to that.

“So, I think if I could have my way and we can ask for that then that would be fantastic and the people would enjoy it.

“But obviously I can’t just make those decisions, there is the Lions Board, CEOs and lots of other stakeholders involved.

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“I just can’t see why that can’t be the safest option, where we just have all negative cases, we’re all living in bubbles, and you just don’t get any connection with any outside team. For me, that’s the safest way and I think that will give us the best preparation to be good competition for the Lions, and I’m sure Warren would want us to be at full strength and have good match fitness before we play them in the first Test match. So, I can’t say I am confident, I’m hoping.”

Erasmus added that he has not shut the door on any emerging player pushing their way into the Test team, but admitted that his selection for this match is more about fine-tuning the nucleus of the side he led to World Cup glory just over a year and a half ago.

“There are some players that you just have a lot of knowledge about, who you have worked with a lot under pressure at World Cups and so on, so it is a matter of getting them fit and ready because you know they are class and what they have done for you in the past,” he explained.

“That’s not to say that other guys can’t knock down the door. If we had the Georgian Test match and the SA ‘A’ game then it would have been much easier to make those decisions but we have this one game so far and we are really trying hard to get another game on Saturday … or confirm another game on Saturday.”

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South Africa ‘A’ (v British & Irish Lions Such Africa A at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday @ 7pm BST): W le Roux; C Kolbe, L Am©, D de Allende, S Nkosi; M Steyn, F de Klerk; S Kitshoff, J Dweba, T Nyakane, E Etzebeth,  F Mostert, M van Staden, P du Toit, J Wiese.

Replacements (from): M Marx, C Oosthuizen, V Koch, N Janse van Rensburg, R Elstadt, H Jantjies, J Kriel, D Willemse, K Smith, E Jantjies.

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About David Barnes 3959 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


    • Sonsie, you are a cynic, how could you suggest such a thing? Keep up the good work, forewarned is forearmed.

  1. Effectively five tests against the world champion Springboks is being offered. Additionally what Erasmus is saying about Covid19 rings true, two squads presently testing negative and being as bio secure as they can be during a global pandemic. Come on Warren slap him in the face with your glove and let’s get this thing on.

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