(Reuters) – South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has been found guilty of misconduct by an independent committee for his hour-long video critique of the match officials during the British & Irish Lions series, but will appeal the verdict.
The Independent Misconduct Committee has decided that Erasmus, who coached the Springboks to the 2019 Rugby World Cup title, is:
- suspended with immediate effect from all rugby activities for two months
- suspended from all match-day activities (including coaching, contact with match officials, and media engagement) with immediate effect until 30 September, 2022
- warned as to his future conduct and has to apologise to the relevant match officials.
The Committee also decided that SA (South Africa) Rugby:
- is fined £20,000 ($26,976)
- received a warning as to future conduct and must apologise to the relevant match officials
Erasmus was found guilty of all six charges brought by the governing body for various breaches of World Rugby Regulation 18 (Misconduct and Code of Conduct), which could have carried a much tougher sentence.
He has indicated he will appeal the verdict, as will SA Rugby. The parties have seven days to appeal from receipt of the full written decision, said World Rugby.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus 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.”
The Springboks play their final game of the autumn international series against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Though Jacques Nienaber is now the head coach of the side, he has made no secret of the fact that Erasmus has a heavy input, from training to team selection.
Erasmus’ two-month ban, if upheld, will have little material effect for the Boks as they are not expected to be in action after this weekend until July 2022, while his match-day suspension will not stop him from helping to prepare the team.
Erasmus was unhappy with numerous decisions made by Australian referee Nic Berry in the 22-17 first test loss to the Lions in Cape Town in July, and further displeased when his efforts to engage with the official the following day were rebuffed.
He made a 62-minute video that was a critique of the performance of the match officials, including what he termed the “disrespect” shown to Bok captain Siya Kolisi.
The video, Erasmus claims, was intended to be sent to World Rugby officials and Berry only.
Instead it found its way onto a public viewing platform and started to circulate on social media.
The misconduct committee found that Erasmus had told Berry he would make the video unless the latter agreed to a meeting, and made good on that threat.
He was also found guilty of making comments in the video that were “either abusive, insulting and/or offensive to match officials”.
Among other charges were the allegations that he had attacked, disparaged and/or denigrated the game and match officials, did not accept the decisions of match officials, created a scenario that may impair public confidence in match officials and brought the game into disrepute.
WATCH Rassie Erasmus on Carte Blanche
Rassie Erasmus, does not mince his words, a trait that appears to have earned him the wrath of the sport’s governing body, World Rugby. Did he overstep the mark in his now infamous video, leaked online after the Boks’ defeat in the first test against the British and Irish Lions earlier this year? Or did he shine a light on an organisation lacking accountability and in need of reform? Questions Carte Blanche attempts to answer as Erasmus finally faces up to allegations of misconduct and violating the sport’s code of conduct.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru and Nick Said in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis/Reuters and Jenni Baxter/SAPeople)