Oof that’s a fiery title, right? Sure, we are probably going to lose a couple of followers here and there for being so audacious, calling out someone who is practically Rugby royalty on some media-based beef off of the back of perhaps the ugliest Lions tour we’ve seen in over a decade, but as a forum, and as a Rugby-bonkers platform, it would be wrong of us not to comment on what Erasmus has been up to post-last weekends defeat.
This tour has already come into immense scrutiny from fans and pundits alike, from it’s economic and political impact, through to the safeguarding of the players on the pitch. However, it feels like this tour has been defined by everything that has happened on social media, and not by the efforts put in by staff and players to put on an entertaining, sporting showcase.
The old adage, what happens on the pitch, stays on the pitch, seems thoroughly redundant in today’s athletic community across all sports, however, Rugby is famed for a being a sport in which a bunch of players of all sizes could knock seven bells out of each other, and still laugh about it at the bar afterwards. I know we are in the age of professionalism, but it feels like that laughter and joy has been displaced across the international Rugby sphere in favour of whining, bashing and hit pieces. It’s not sportsmanlike, it’s not even socially decent, and having spoken to casual Rugby fans a lot of the last three months since moving to Cardiff, it’s actively driving away new supporters too.
Trying to explain the context of why games are grudge matches now, has become… Petty… It’s no longer about battles of pride, both national and international. It’s no longer about bitter feuds built out of athletic feats and trying to one up each other. It’s now about flippant penalty decisions, coaches calling each other out for running to the media with gossip, fake twitter accounts creating plastic beef and all sorts of absolute trash.
Now Gatland is far from innocent, having been exposed for pretty silly practices by the likes of O’Brien and co himself, but he has been the most targeted coach in Rugby history. From his days with the all-time great Wasps side, to coaching Wales for over a decade, to a weak run at the helm of the Chiefs, even through to coaching three, thoroughly successful Lions sides (even if they do faulter later in this tour), he has been bombarded with crap by the media. What Erasmus is doing, is not just enabling the worst in media/journalistic behaviour, which in a post #bekind is distasteful in itself, he’s actively participating in disrupting the sports progression; that’s bad news for the future.
From allegedly fake Twitter accounts, tweeting perceived errors from the ref, through to calling out individual players on the opposite side for putting players at risk (a huge over-reaction by the way), to this morning, releasing a 60 minute + video rant about how the ref got a certain number of decisions wrong and how he’ll walk away from South Africa Rugby on this Lions tour if the issues aren’t addressed. There is being a sore loser, and there’s being an sore loser in a position of social influence.
Nic Berry has received threats, media hit pieces, the usual media meme treatment, calls to resign, all sorts of absolute nonsense after this game, which unfortunately happens all too often after a big sporting event. Where the line is crossed, is when the coaches indulge it, and Erasmus is indirectly indulging himself in this firestorm by creating the sparks that set it off.
The worst part? He started this week by stating, ‘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!!!’. It’s almost like a false touch of class just to keep his personal reputation in tact as he thoroughly destroys it to the Rugby faithful in the background.
Results go the wrong way, referee’s make mistakes, big games are lost that are out of your power, it is what it is, but I shouldn’t have to tell a World Cup winning Rugby legend that. The guy can do what he wants and I’m sure he will be remembered for the success he brought to the Rainbow nation, but as a life-long Rugby fan, this video might be one of the most embarrassing pieces of self-sabotage I’ve ever seen.