CJ Stander understands Rassie 'water boy' ban, but questions effect: 'Always ways around it'

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Rassie Erasmus on "water boy" duties at Murrayfield. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Rassie Erasmus on "water boy" duties at Murrayfield. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
  • SA's former Ireland star CJ Stander "understands" why World Rugby has implemented a trial to stop Rassie Erasmus' "water boy" days, but is sceptical whether it will truly be clamped down.
  • In fact, the recently retired flanker believes the presence of non-medical personnel - coaches most of the time - on the sidelines are of benefit to the game. 
  • Stander says he benefitted a lot from having a coach give him advice or a new perspective during a match.

CJ Stander, South African rugby's most famous export to Ireland, is sympathetic towards World Rugby's plan to clamp down on Rassie Erasmus and others acting as "water boys" during matches, but doesn't believe it will eliminate the issue - if it can even be considered a problem.

The governing body earlier this week approved a global trial limiting the opportunity for non-playing personnel to enter the field of play, specifically adding "director of rugby" as one of the titles now prohibited from carrying on water for players.

Previously, only head coaches were barred from doing so, leading to Erasmus shrewdly and controversially having vast interactions with the Springbok players during last year's series against the British & Irish Lions.

He candidly took to Twitter to suggest "director of coaching" might be a more appropriate title for him.

READ | Rassie responds to 'water boy' ban: Director of coaching a much better title for me!

"I'm smiling a bit because I saw his tweet, his comeback" Stander, who played 51 Tests for Ireland after moving from the Bulls back in 2012, told a United Rugby Championship (URC) media roundtable on Wednesday with a chuckle.

"But I think there will always be ways around it. It's an advantage to have a knowledgeable person close to you while you're playing. Lots of teams have coaches pitch-side running water. You'll probably never really clamp it down."

World Rugby's new law allows for two designated water-carriers to only be "able to enter the field of play twice per half at points agreed with the match officials - this can only be during a stoppage in play or after a try has been scored". 

Indeed, if anything, World Rugby is merely - at least from their perspective - trying to uphold the "spirit" of tactical and technical input during a match because, as Stander points out, tidbits and instructions from the side of the field is part and parcel of the game while also improving the flow of a game "by reducing unnecessary stoppages without compromising welfare".

"When I was playing as captain or player, it was always good to get those messages from someone who knows the game and can provide a bit of a different perspective," he said.

"I can see why World Rugby want to clamp it down, but there will be way around it. I still believe non-medical personnel help the game, I'm not just talking about [Rassie], but everyone. 

"We had defence coaches running around with us, for example. It just improves the decision-making process and gives you that much-needed confirmation of perspective if you need it."

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