Rassie Erasmus is being treated in hospital after a “freak accident” left the South Africa director of rugby with chemical burns.
Mastermind of the Springboks’ back-to-back World Cup triumphs, Erasmus is expected back at work in a matter of weeks and has not suffered any long-term damage. The 51-year-old was using a “powerful detergent” at the time of the accident.
“Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s director of rugby, is recovering in hospital following a medical procedure for chemical burns sustained in a freak accident using a powerful detergent product,” a South Africa Rugby statement said. “He is otherwise in good health.”
The Springboks are next in action in July when they host Ireland at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria when Erasmus will reprise his former role as head coach. Erasmus had stepped up to become director of rugby after their 2019 World Cup final win over England in Japan but with his right-hand-man Jacques Nienaber moving to Leinster last year he will return to coaching in 2024.
South Africa became only the second team to successfully defend their men’s World Cup title last year, following up the 32-12 win over England in Yokohama in 2019 by beating New Zealand 12-11 in Paris in October. That replicated the feat of the All Blacks, who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup at successive tournaments in 2011 and 2015.
After South Africa’s 2019 triumph, Erasmus revealed he had been suffering from microscopic polyangiitis with granulomatosis, a rare autoimmune disease, and had undergone chemotherapy that year, including during the World Cup campaign.
It is not the first time that South African rugby personalities have been involved in a serious burns incident. Springboks Damian De Allende and RG Snyman were among four Munster players who suffered “superficial burns to the legs, hands and face” in 2021 after a petrol can was thrown on a fire pit.