SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus, SA Director of Rugby, said in a statement yesterday – 25 November – that they “wish to apologise to the match officials appointed to the first Test of the Springboks’ Series against the British & Irish Lions.”
In a statement on SA Rugby announcing the about-turn, they said: “We also confirm that SA Rugby and Erasmus have advised World Rugby that they withdraw their Notice of Appeal and will not lodge an appeal against the sanctions imposed by the Judicial Committee.”
The sanctions were imposed last week when Erasmus was found guilty of misconduct by an independent committee for his hour-long video critique of the match officials. The critique – aimed largely at Australian referee Nic Berry – came after South Africa’s 22-17 loss to the Lions in Cape Town in July.
Erasmus was suspended from all rugby activities for two months, and all match-day activities (including coaching, contact with match officials, and media engagement) until 30 September, 2022, and ordered to apologise to relevant match officials.
SA Rugby was also ordered to apologise, and was fined £20,000 ($26,976).
In their statement, SA Rugby and Erasmus said: “This has been a highly stressful and charged environment with unusual pressures placed on all concerned and we have no wish to prolong that experience for anyone.
“We have drawn a line under the incident and only wish to look forward. We will respect the outcomes of the hearing, allowing our national teams and rugby operations to plan with clarity for the coming months.”
In response, World Rugby said in a statement: “World Rugby welcomes the public apology from SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus to the match officials involved in the first test between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions this year and the matter is closed.”
On Twitter yesterday, Erasmus jokingly invited Wallabies coach Dave Rennie for a drink after Rennie criticised match officials following Australia’s defeat to Wales.
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) November 25, 2021