Coach Rassie Erasmus guided the Springboks to the 2019 Rugby World Cup triumph while battling a life-threatening disease that required chemotherapy during the tournament.
That’s the claim in a South African media report by Rapport that was confirmed by Erasmus’ doctor.
Erasmus, who has now moved away from hands-on coaching to be South Africa’s director of coaching, didn’t speak to the paper but the national union confirmed he was treated “for a serious condition” in 2019.
The report said Erasmus was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called microscopic polyangiitis with granulomatosis in early 2019.
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While not cancerous it can severely impact the lungs, kidneys, sinuses and trachea.
Erasmus’s doctor Johan Theron said the inspirational coach had suffered rare strain of the disease that was life-threatening.
“He really doubted at one stage whether he would be able to push through with his position as Springbok coach,” Theron said.
The report said that during the World Cup in Japan, Erasmus’ chemotherapy doses were lowered, helping him cope with the stresses of the campaign.
Erasmus’ treatment continued until March this year.
“Rassie was treated for a serious condition in 2019, from which he has recovered,” a SA Rugby spokesperson told Sport24 when approached about the accuracy of the Rapport report.
“He thanks people for their concern but wishes to keep the matter private.”
South Africa won their third Rugby World Cup title at the expense of England in a pulsating final.
Erasmus kept a steady flow of social media coming out of the triumphant campaign during a tournament where his team talks were central to the success of the Springboks.
One of Erasmus’ assistants, Jacques Nienaber, has now taken over as head coach of the Springboks.
South Africans celebrated the Springboks’ victory over England in the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama.