British & Irish Lions

Proudfoot: Differences between Rassie and Eddie 'eye-opening'

Matt Proudfoot (Gallo Images)
Matt Proudfoot (Gallo Images)

Matt Proudfoot's first sixth months as an assistant to England coach Eddie Jones have already vividly illustrated to him the stark differences to the Springbok setup.

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The 47-year-old former Scotland prop received wide acclaim for his role in South Africa's World Cup victory in Japan last year as Rassie Erasmus' forwards coach, particularly in the final where the Boks brutalised the Red Roses.

Clearly impressed, Jones moved quickly in convincing him to switch allegiance after his contract with SA Rugby expired.

"Eddie has tried to pull a whole lot of different perspectives into the English model and tried to really make it the best," Proudfoot told media during a teleconference.

"That has required me to grow, requires the players to grow, staff members to grow and to be outside your comfort zone and that has been a very big difference. His preparation is exceptional. How holistically he prepares a team. He wants us to continually improve the way we do things so, once we've trained, he'll ask us how we could improve that session."

In contrast, he noted that Rassie Erasmus - perhaps because he only had 18 months to mould a national squad - prioritised pragmatism over developing revolutionary ideas. 

"In the South African environment, a statement was 'execution above innovation'. Here it's 'execution through innovation’.

"Eddie wants to build the best rugby environment. He pushes every part of the department to be the best they can be, whereas maybe the Springbok environment was about really preserving the Springbok identity," said Proudfoot.

Having played extensively in Scotland and coaching in South Africa, Japan and Europe, the man from Klerksdorp admitted he's been pleasantly surprised how similar his interpersonal relationships with players remain.

"Wherever you are in the world they (forwards) tend to be the same type of people so that's something I've enjoyed," he said.

"A Joe Marler and a Steven Kitshoff, a Lood de Jager and a Maro Itoje, tend to be similar types of people, and that's quite surprised me."

- Compiled by Heinz Schenk 

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