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Boks found their 'replacement' for Nigel Owens

The Springboks have ‘parked’ the idea of getting a high-profile international referee on board in their backroom staff at the World Cup.


South Africa’s Director of Rugby Johan Erasmus recently admitted he has made ‘some errors’ in dealing with match officials in the past and that is one of the reasons behind the attempt to bring refereeing legend Nigel Owens on board.

However, Owens turned down the invitation to become part of the Bok set-up.

Erasmus confirmed that they are no longer looking for an external referee to help solve their contestations with match officials.

While Owens is not available, Erasmus said just reaching out to the talismanic referee has been invaluable.

He said while discussing what the Boks need and what they need to change, they got some real answers.

“Through that [the engagement with Owens] we have built a relationship with World Rugby,” Erasmus told a media briefing.


“Maybe we haven’t played, but we haven’t been bumping heads,” the Director of Rugby said.

He said they didn’t want it to be a smokescreen or just something they just pretended to do.

“We haven’t found someone which is the [same] fit [as Nigel Owens] and what we want to get out of that.

“Our focus is now on how we get the referee to see a better picture,” Erasmus said, adding they won’t be replacing Owens.


“We have parked that issue, with the information we have traded forwards and backwards.

“Internally, we have the help from referees, and Nigel [Owens] is also still available for us to bounce some ideas off him.”

Owen’s possible inclusion in the Springbok coaching panel ahead of the World Cup in France this year made headlines around the globe.

(Article continues below the Erasmus interview …)

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Owens also recently revealed the reason for turning down the Bok offer.

“It goes without saying really that to be asked to become part of the coaching team for a side like the Springboks was incredibly exciting and, of course, a huge honour,” Owens said in a recent column.

“It’s something that I would have enjoyed doing without a shadow of a doubt.

“However, I have decided to say no.

“While it is a great privilege to have even been considered for the role, it has simply come at the wrong time in my life.

“I have still got a lot of commitments here in Wales at the moment and while a few years ago I may have been able to set off for South Africa and spend time away from home for six months, I can’t really do that anymore.

“I have got to think about the farm and all the work that goes with that, as well as my current roles with the Wales, URC and World Rugby. Between overseeing the refereeing academy, coaching officials and doing Whistle Watch, I have got more than enough going on to keep me busy.

“But the main reason why I had to turn down the job is because myself and my partner Barrie have some exciting news to share – we are currently in the final stages of the adoption process and will hopefully be starting our family in the coming months.

“There is not too much I can say at the moment about the process itself, but we are both incredibly excited. It’s something that we have spoken about for a few years now and it’s taken a while to get here, but now that it is happening we can’t wait.”


* Additional reporting by

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