Movie Review: Rassie – The Official Film

Johan “Rassie” Erasmus has been a rugby fan, player, coach and director over his sports career, culminating in winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. A major proponent of the overwhelming success story that characterised the Springboks in what became their third World Cup victory after 1995 and 2003’s dramatic finals, the story was beautifully captured in a rousing documentary series called Chasing the Sun.

As a spin-off, it seemed fitting to chronicle one of the story’s most influential figures from his earliest days dreaming of playing for Despatch, before going on to become a Springbok and becoming a globally-recognised sports icon. An honest man who’s dedicated his entire life to the pursuit of innovation, progress and strategy around the game of rugby, Erasmus has seen the highs and lows from just about every angle.

Divided into chapters, covering his various roles in a chronological order, touching on each affiliation and partnership with an overview of achievements and learnings, Rassie is a compelling and comprehensive sports biopic. Gathering an array of footage and photos from each chapter, Rassie maintains good pacing, not getting bogged down and constantly shaping its textured character portrait.

A maverick, whose unorthodox approach has been hugely influential from player selection to tactics, Erasmus has been known to be a stirrer with his outspoken attitude landing himself in trouble with world sports bodies and naysayers. Sidestepping the plucky character’s social media gaffes and rule-bending, this documentary is more concerned with garnering due respect, presenting the coach’s overarching influence and positive effect.

rassie movie

“Scotland, Romania, Ireland and Tonga… sounds like a jol.”

Having turned down Springbok captaincy as a player during the Nick Mallett era, Erasmus has worked his way up through the ranks as a young coach and encountered every leadership role with numerous mentors, learning what to do and what not to do in the process. Interviewing an array of coaches, journalists and media personalities, this documentary offers a window into the proud South African’s life story and hard-earned fairytale.

A work in progress as SARU Director, Erasmus summoned all of his experiential knowledge to help address issues relating to self-belief, patriotism, transformation and meritocracy to deliver a more representative Springbok team. While Rassie retraces some familiar terrain with a typical documentary format, it’s ultimately a compelling, comprehensive, honest and rousing documentary chronicle of an unconventional and fiercely independent sports icon.

The bottom line: Spirited