Rassie Erasmus: Gregor Townsend subjected to abuse on social media after ‘sledging’ claim

Gregor Townsend’s condemnation of Rassie Erasmus provoked predictable fury among South Africa rugby fans on social media but Stuart Hogg was reluctant to be drawn into the debate yesterday.

Rassie Erasmus, centre, gives out instructions to his South Africa players during the Autumn Nations Series match against Scotland at Murrayfield. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The Scotland coach accused the Springboks’ director of rugby of “sledging” at Murrayfield last weekend. A video has emerged of Erasmus appearing to tell South Africa full-back Willie le Roux that one of the Scotland wingers is poor under the high ball.

Townsend spoke of “character assassination” and called on World Rugby to clamp down on coaching staff who try to intimidate opposition players and referees from the sidelines.

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Erasmus reprised his “water boy” role against Scotland, allowing him to prowl the touchline and also enter the field of play to hand water bottles to his players, a ploy he used during the summer series against the Lions.

Some of the more strident South African commentators have taken umbrage with Townsend who was also subjected to abuse on social media. Hogg had no desire to add fuel to the fire.

“A lot has been said about this already,” said the Scotland captain. “And to be brutally honest it doesn’t interest me in the slightest. What [Erasmus] does is up to him.

“Gregor covered a lot of this already so I’ve no interest in it. I was doing my best during the game to concentrate on making sure we were performing. I can’t be bothered with it.”

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While Scotland host Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday, South Africa are at Twickenham to face England without Erasmus who has been banned from all rugby activity for two months for his criticism of match officials during the Lions series earlier this year.

He has appealed and was yesterday offered unswerving support from his assistant, Mzwandile Stick.

Erasmus is being portrayed as something akin to a martyr in South Africa despite his verbal attack on referee Nic Berry which had a profound effect on the official and his family.

Stick said: “Rassie is a very special guy to us. We know how much he cares for us. We know how much he cares for everyone and his spirit will always be there.”

“We’re going to miss him, yes. But one thing I guarantee you for sure is that his spirit will always be there.”

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