South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has been found guilty of misconduct by World Rugby following his criticism of a referee during the Springboks’ series against the British and Irish Lions in July and August and been banned until September next year.
This follows a hearing after Erasmus made a video highlighting several “incorrect” refereeing decisions in the first Test, handled by Australian Nic Berry, which the Boks lost to the Lions. The video lasted just over 60 minutes and was apparently leaked into the public domain.
Six charges were brought by World Rugby for breaches of Regulation 18 and the rugby body’s code of conduct. The charges, in summary, were:
- Threatened a match official that unless a requested meeting took place, he would publish footage containing clips criticising the match official’s performance and then making good on that threat; published or permitted to be published the Erasmus Video containing numerous comments that were either abusive, insulting and/or offensive to match officials;
- Attacked, disparaged and/or denigrated the game and the match officials;
- Did not accept or observe the authority and decisions of match officials;
- Published or caused to be published criticism of the manner in which a match official handled a match;
- Engaged in conduct or activity that may impair public confidence in the integrity and good character of match official(s); and
- Brought the game into disrepute when he published or caused to be published the Erasmus Video.
World Rugby, in a statement on Wednesday evening said: “Having considered all the evidence, including oral evidence from the match officials, Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby, World Rugby, and submissions from the parties, the committee found all six charges against Erasmus proved.”
Two further charges were brought by World Rugby against SA Rugby in accordance with World Rugby Regulation 18 and the World Rugby Code of Conduct. In summary, the charges were that SA Rugby:
- Did not ensure that Rassie Erasmus complied with the World Rugby Code of Conduct and/or permitted Mr Erasmus to commit acts of misconduct; and/or did not publicly correct any comments or publications by or on behalf of Mr Erasmus that amounted to misconduct; and
- Permitted and/or did not prevent Siya Kolisi and Mzwandile Stick to make comments at a press conference on 30 July, 2021 that were not disciplined or sporting and adversely affected the game of rugby; and/or did not publicly correct any such comments so as adversely affected the game of rugby.
World Rugby, having considered all the evidence found the following:
Regarding Rassie Erasmus
- Suspension with immediate effect from all rugby activities for two months
- Suspension from all match-day activities (including coaching, contact with match officials, and media engagement) with immediate effect until 30 September 2022
- A warning as to his future conduct and an apology to the relevant match officials.
Regarding SA Rugby
- A fine of £20,000 (R418,000)
- A warning as to future conduct and an apology to the relevant match officials
In a statement late Wednesday, SA Rugby said:
“SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus have noted the decision of World Rugby’s judicial committee. Both parties confirmed they will exercise their rights to appeal the verdicts. Neither party will make any further comment until the process is complete.”
World Rugby’s full verdict is available here.