Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

World Rugby’s referees boss breaks silence on Rassie’s tweets

The SA Rugby director has caused a storm following his series of tweets highlighting refereeing errors made in Marseille.

While World Rugby have not officially made a statement about the series of tweets sent out by SA Rugby’s director Rassie Erasmus, seemingly criticising referee Wayne Barnes for his handling of certain passages of play during the Springboks Test against France last Saturday, referees boss Joel Jutge has spoken out about it.

Erasmus caused a bit of a storm on Sunday and Monday after tweeting clips of what appeared to be incidents going against the Boks in their 30-26 defeat by France in Marseille at the weekend.

Erasmus highlighted several incidents which appeared to have sarcastic undertones aimed at the refereeing of Barnes. The SA Rugby director has since copped plenty of criticism for his actions, by among others former Test referee Nigel Owens and British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland.

Erasmus and Gatland had heated exchanges last year already after a video Erasmus made highlighting refereeing errors in the first Test between the Boks and Lions was leaked to the public. The video was not well-received and World Rugby banned Erasmus from games for several months.

ALSO READ: Please Rassie, quit the tweeting

While World Rugby have yet to respond to Erasmus’ latest tweets, which the SA Rugby boss says are not aimed at the referees or World Rugby but are intended to help educate Bok fans, Jutge was quoted on Thursday by Rugby Rama as saying:

“He chose this channel of communication several months ago. He had more or less done the same thing during the last British Lions tour in South Africa and closer to us, after the recent defeat of the Springboks in Ireland. 

“We regret this behavior because we, at World Rugby, have set up a system of communication and exchanges with the coaches which works rather well. We are therefore very disappointed that he is using social networks to voice his reservations about the refereeing of this or that match. 

“It’s counterproductive and totally inappropriate. But if he does, it’s because his federation authorises him to do so… It’s unfortunate…”

Jutge continues: “I don’t understand Rassie Erasmus’ attitude. What will be done to make him stop? I don’t know… It’s not part of my skills…”

Jutge goes on to say that Erasmus’ “attitude is a concern”.

Following losses to Ireland France, the world champion Springboks face Italy in Genoa on Saturday before completing their November tour of Europe with a match against England at Twickenham on Saturday 26 November.

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