Rassie Erasmus, the Springbok Director of Rugby, has announced that he will pay a visit to the family of former Munster head coach Anthony Foley, who died unexpectedly in a Paris hotel room in 2016 ahead of a Champions Cup match, during his team’s European tour next month.
Erasmus, who was the union’s Director of Rugby at the time, took over as head coach for the rest of the season before joining the Springboks in 2017.
Erasmus promised an Irish journalist at the post-match press conference after winning the Rugby World Cup final on November 2, 2019, that he would visit Foley’s grave with his winner’s medal at some point in the future.
Any such plans, however, were thwarted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying travel restrictions.
Erasmus will return to Ireland next month, where the Boks will play on 5 November before South Africa A plays a midweek game against Munster on 10 November.
An Irish reporter questioned Erasmus at a press conference on Tuesday about the promise he made three years ago and whether he would keep it.
“What Munster did for me as a coach – not just the people, but the players and assistant coaches – and when Axel (Foley) passed away, I hope I grew as a person and understood things and people better because I wasn’t always great at that,” Erasmus said.
“I will undoubtedly devise a strategy.” I’ll definitely see his sister, and hopefully Jerry (Flannery, former Munster forwards coach) will be there as well, if he isn’t at Harlequins.
“I will definitely keep my promise because Axel was instrumental in those few months for me.” We had difficult times when we first met, but we ended up as two close friends, and I adore the Munster and Irish people.”
Erasmus also expressed his excitement at the prospect of playing against Munster.
“Munster has a history of really challenging international teams,” he said.
“I believe the All Blacks have previously lost to them, and I know when we coached there, we beat the New Zealand Maoris.”
“I know how passionate Munster fans are, but I also know how respectful they are when a team is on the field.”
“There will be some big names playing in that game because of the overflow from the Test side.” That’s very exciting. The competition will be fierce.”
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