EXCLUSIVE: Duane's clash with Rassie, and how it saved his World Cup dream

rugby27 March 2024 09:20
By:Brenden Nel

If there was ever something that could drive a team apart, it is the inability to handle conflict in a high-pressure environment.

Considering their road to the Rugby World Cup title in 2023, the defence of their 2019 title and the close-fought matches in which the Springboks always ended up on top, quite often behind the scenes there would be pressure for the team to deal with, both on and off the field.

Chasing the Sun 2 gives some unique insight into the challenges that the team faced, but few would have known about the behind-the-scenes tension surrounding hardman Duane Vermeulen and his quest to finish his career on a high.

In this exclusive interview from the Chasing the Sun 2 series, Vermeulen talks about the clash with Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, and how he was desperate to make the World Cup squad.

He takes us behind the scenes in an open and frank meeting with the team management, revealing conversations that have up to now been kept in the team domain.

“At our camp in Durban, Rassie called me in and the whole management team was sitting there. It was before the announcement of the World Cup squad,” Vermeulen explains.

“The year before that we had a big scuffle, myself and Rassie and Jacques (Nienaber). It was a difficult time for me. I thought that perhaps I wasn’t going to be selected, because maybe there were still some sour grapes.”


Vermeulen explains how it was handled and how the conflict was resolved, the lessons he needed to internalise and gives us an insight into the environment the Boks operate in, and how the team is always bigger than the individual.

Considering Vermeulen is now on Rassie’s coaching team for the 2024 season, this is a very revealing moment about the team and its internal dynamics, as told by the player himself.

Riveting and a must-watch, Vermeulen tells his full story of being selected for the World Cup.

*Keep your eyes on the SuperSport.com site for more exclusive clips from Chasing the Sun 2. The series airs every Sunday at 8pm on MNet and is also available on Catch-up.