Dr Rassie! A look back at Springbok coach’s player days

Dr Rassie! A look back at Springbok coach’s player days

From Springbok star to honorary doctor! Take a look at these throwback pics of Rassie Erasmus on the field…

Rassie Erasmus played against Australia and New Zealand at the 199 Rugby World Cup

Rassie Erasmus has been awarded an honorary doctorate for his incredible contribution to South African rugby, and in particular winning two consecutive World Cups. But did you know that the Springboks boss actually experienced the competition as a player himself back in 1999?

The retired rugby has been hailed as a “genius” for his work strategising and nurturing talent. The 51-year-old has signed on to coach the national team until 2027.


Last week, Rassie Erasmus accepted an honorary doctorate in the discipline of Coaching Science from the Council of the North-West University.

The University motivated that the sports star’s contribution as both as a rugby strategist and as a nation builder  “serves as a shining example of what can be achieved when passion, dedication and visionary leadership come together.”.

Rassie responded in a public statement that read:  “I’m extremely honoured and humbled to receive this recognition, but I have to give all the credit to the Springbok team and management for their resilience and determination over the last few years who made this possible.”

He continued: “Rugby is a team sport, and success is a collective effort. So, although this is an incredible achievement for me personally, all credit must go to everyone who made a massive contribution and huge sacrifices throughout the last few years and to our supporters who have been unwavering in their support for the national team.”


While Rassie Erasmus helped South Africa lift the Webb Ellis trophy as World Cup champions in 2019 and again in 2023, he didn’t have the same experience two decades earlier.

A then Springbok player, Rassie – whose real name is Johan – was drafted in the 30-man squad selected to play in Wales.

Rassie and his fellow Springboks

He played alongside legends like Joost van der Westhuizen, Breyton Paulse, Percy Montgomery, and Nick Mallett.

The then 26-year-old flanker even played in the semi-final game against Australia, in which they lost 27-21. Ultimately, Australia would go on to win the title, and SA walked away in third place.

In a media briefing during the 2023World Cup, Rassie spoke about his semi-final playing experience.

He said: “When I was a player we lost the World Cup against Australia, and for the next couple of games we played against Australia we were always thinking, ‘It was you guys who took it away from us.’ England will feel like that, too. ‘You guys took it away from us and we would like to take it back.’”.


Take a look at these pics from Rassie Erasmus’s Rugby World Cup experience in 1999.


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