Soundbites on podcasts need to be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s a medium rife with rumours, hearsay and no shortage of speculation.
So Victor Matfield’s recent comments about Rassie Erasmus’ seemingly impending appointment as David Nucifora’s successor should be heeded with caution.
For the record, this is what the former Springbok lock told The Rugby Pod earlier this week.
‘It sounds like Rassie is going,’ said Matfield, in relation to Erasmus stepping into the role of IRFU performance director next year.
‘He might stay for a few months just to get things in place. But knowing Rassie, knowing Jacques (Nienaber), those two do everything together.
Rassie Erasmus would certainly be a compelling choice for Ireland’s next performance director
Following South Africa’s World Cup triumph in 2019, it’s hard to argue with his track record
‘So I think the chances of him going to Ireland must be close to 90 to 95 per cent. The two of them always work together.’
Perhaps Matfield has a good steer on the South Africa supremo’s next move but it sounds like a hunch based on Nienaber linking up with Leinster’s coaching team after the World Cup.
Whether there is any basis for this Erasmus rumour or not, it would be a fascinating move for both parties.
Erasmus can be a divisive figure. There are still plenty of people in Munster who still feel a bit lukewarm about the South African following after his premature exit from the province. You can’t argue with his track record, however.
And with Nucifora planning to step aside after a decade in the top gig – arguably the most influential role in Irish rugby – in 2024, the IRFU are on the hunt for a high-calibre candidate.
In terms of a CV, Erasmus fits the bill. Indeed, he could well be the figure who derails Ireland’s World Cup campaign next weekend. That Pool B encounter in Paris is looming large now.
The big worry is that Erasmus has formulated a plan to nullify Andy Farrell’s side at Stade de France. Erasmus always has a plan. Park all the sideshows around this tweets, the traffic lights and the suspensions, this is one of the shrewdest operators in the game.
Johnny Sexton became Ireland’s record points scorer during the victory against Tonga
Erasmus did split opinion when Munster’s coach but there could be unfinished Irish business
You wouldn’t bet against him leading the Boks to back-to-back World Cups in the weeks either. The perfect way to sign off before he returned to Ireland to take care of some unfinished business?
Time will tell on both fronts. It would be fitting if Nienaber infused some much-needed Springbok steel in Leinster’s ranks and helped the province land a coveted Champions Cup in the seasons ahead.
It would be fitting if Erasmus returned to Ireland and oversaw restructure of the system which would finally allow the national team to go deep in the World Cup knockout stages.
Again, we’re dealing in hypotheticals here. But the case for Erasmus as the next IRFU performance director is compelling. It certainly wouldn’t be dull.
Ireland could be building on a ground-breaking legacy or rebuilding from the ruins of another failed campaign. Either way, the IRFU are going to need a big character to take the game forward. Erasmus ticks a lot of boxes.
One thing is certain, he is about to have a big say on Ireland’s World Cup chances. If we are to believe recent rumours, he could have having a big say on Ireland’s future plans as well.