The new Springbok coaching group. Photo: SA Rugby website

Rassie counting on ‘Tom and Jerry’ to elevate Springboks evolution

Rassie Erasmus says ‘Tom and Jerry’ will be at the forefront of the Springboks’ continued evolution and innovation in the next World Cup cycle.


The new Springbok coaching group. Photo: SA Rugby website

Springbok boss Rassie Erasmus has laid out his thinking behind the appointment of foreign coaches Jerry Flannery and Tony Brown. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.

In Cape Town on Tuesday, Rassie Erasmus addressed the media in a wide-ranging press conference. The enigmatic Bok coach broached various subjects, but one of the more pertinent points of discussion was the acquisition of former All Blacks star Tony Brown and ex-Ireland international Jerry Flannery as assistant coaches.

Brown and Flannery were officially unveiled as part the Springboks coaching team, with the Kiwi coming in as attack coach and the Irishman as defence coach.

Erasmus was in a jovial mood as he sat at the top of the table, while his new lieutenants were seated at the back of the room, listening intently to what he had to say.


In a rather light-hearted comedic moment, Rassie Erasmus referred to Tony Brown and Jerry Flannery as the Tom and Jerry who’ve now taken on the responsibility of the Springboks’ continued evolution in this four-year cycle between World Cups.

“We lost two of our coaches; well not lost, they got new opportunities. Then we got two new guys in, guys I know really well from way back. We’ll call them Tom and Jerry,” a laughing Rassie Erasmus said.

The Springbok boss explained that “lack of leadership, lack of creativity and abundance of arrogance” could lead to any team’s demise and to avoid falling into one of those pitfalls, it was of utmost importance to have different voices and new ideas to freshen up the Springbok environment after double World Cup success.

“Lack of leadership, lack of creativity and abundance of arrogance: one of those three can make us stop winning,” Rassie explained. The things that keep you down is when you have too much arrogance and say ‘my way is the only way. We can’t do things exactly the same as in the past. And that’s not to say that Jacques Nienaber and Felix Jones would have done so.”

“But we all strive to have a perfect game between attack and defence; and if we want to get better, we have to change some things. Not just for the sake of changing, but to improve and get better.

“I won’t lie, I’d have loved to keep Felix [Jones], he is really exceptional. But Tony looks differently at attack. Tony is a creator, he has already hatched some solid plans, doable plans not kamma kamma rugby, but real rugby solutions,” the Bok boss boasted.

“Then you’ve got Jerry. He has got the same work ethic as Felix Jones (also Irish). He’s been doing analysis and watching hours and hours of footage, which is unfortunately part of the job. And the things that we’ve done [on defence per Flannery’s instructions] these last couple of says are really exciting.

‘If we get it right [the integration of Brown’s new attacking structures and Flannery’s defence plans], we’ll see improvement [in how the team plays],” Rassie Erasmus concluded.

Rassie Erasmus Springbok coach World Rugby rankings
The Springboks have extended their lead atop the World Rugby rankings after Ireland’s shock defeat at the hands of England. Image: JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP