Springboks Rassie Erasmus Nienaber World Cup

Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber. Photo: SA Rugby

Springboks again surprise with more innovative thinking

The Springboks’ coaches have once again demonstrated their willingness to think outside of the box, with more interesting plans in place.

Springboks Rassie Erasmus Nienaber World Cup

Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber. Photo: SA Rugby

During Sunday night’s World Cup win over Scotland, director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and assistant coach Felix Jones caught the attention of the cameras by communicating from the Springboks’ coaches box using coloured lights.

It immediately brought back memories of Erasmus famously used similar tactics during his days as head coach of the Free State Cheetahs over a decade ago.

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At the time, Erasmus became renowned for using coloured cards and then colour-coded lamps on top of the Free State Stadium to communicate with his players.

It’s led to a widespread reaction, with British & Irish Lions legend Alun Wyn Jones even suggesting that Erasmus was an eccentric genius.

As also showcased by experienced journalist Hendrik Cronje, who is covering the Springboks on tour, the coaches have another very clear and clever plan should there be an emergency at hooker.

With just two specialist hookers in Malcolm Marx and Bongi Mbonambi at the tournament, the Springboks do need to consider what back-up they have if there was an injury just before a game.

Of course, Deon Fourie is next in line should there be a need for emergency cover, but as the footage below demonstrates, it’s evident that flanker Marco van Staden is getting through some basic training jus to ensure the Springboks have options in a worst-case scenario.

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When it came to the Springboks on Sunday, the coaches insisted there was nothing illegal in what they were doing when it came to the lights system, and coach Jacques Nienaber insisted that it was primarily used for injury and substitution-related communication.

“In terms of the lights, it started when we played the French in Marseille last year. With this dome, the sound is phenomenal, you can’t hear people,” he said.

“Because there are lots of channels during the match where we communicate, it’s difficult in that atmosphere to talk to our support staff. A lot of teams will have a system to certain aspects, like, for example, how serious is the injury? Is it just a knock? That type of communication.”

“It’s like using hand signals. You don’t need permission from World Rugby. I was still at Munster when we employed a similar system,” said Nienaber.

“The light would be red if it’s a serious thing and one must consider a substitution. Amber tells the support staff to give a guy another five or ten minutes to see if he’s okay. Green obviously means go-on. We did it in Ireland in 2016-17 too. 

“It’s an easy way of communicating instructions because, with the stadium noise, the radio channels can get consumed by medical talk. We really just use it for injuries or substitutions. 

“There’s nothing tactical or technical about it.”

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There was a widespread reaction to the Springboks’ use of the lights

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