(Reuters) – South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has been handed a two-game ban from all match-day activities by World Rugby after tweets he posted that were perceived to be critical of referees.
Erasmus returned this month from a near year-long stadium suspension following his infamous 62-minute video critique of Australian referee Nic Berry after the opening test of the tempestuous British & Irish Lions series in South Africa last year. (Don’t Miss: The story of the British & Irish Lions tour in Two Sides)
Erasmus will miss the test against Italy in Genoa on Saturday and the visit to Twickenham to face England on Nov. 26, but can still help prepare the team for the matches.
Erasmus posted videos on Twitter that appeared to show referee errors after the Springboks’ 19-16 loss to Ireland on Nov. 5, and the 30-26 defeat by France this past weekend, though he has denied he was insinuating anything with the posts, and was in fact pointing out Bok mistakes.
“World Rugby has reviewed the recent social media posts by SA Rugby Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus that relate to match officiating in the Autumn Nations Series,” the governing body said in a statement on Thursday.
“The behaviour of coaching staff and match officials are widely observed by fans, media and participants at every level, and such behaviours affect how the values are applied across the game. World Rugby has the ability to impose a sanction where a breach has occurred.”
World Rugby said: “The ban includes engagement with media and social media in relation to match officials.” (Read the full statement further down.)
Erasmus told reporters on Wednesday that suggestions he was taking pot shots at the officials, and in particular English referee Wayne Barnes following the French test, were wide of the mark.
“I don’t think Wayne Barnes would make all those bad decisions. He’s number one in the world and has 100 tests under the belt,” said Erasmus.
“It’s obviously something on our side we need to fix. I just want supporters to understand that. If people put a narrative to that, I can’t control it.”
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)
Like myself the referee of the French test & his family have received threats & abuse. Apparently it’s partly due to my tweets which is totally unfounded.Tweets were not aimed at the officials,but to our ??fans on what we should do better. Have a go at me not the ref!! Tweets?? pic.twitter.com/XYnrtjl091
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) November 17, 2022
This new Rassie Erasmus ban is unchartered waters for World Rugby. Banning someone for their social media use on a personal platform is very different to the 'leaked' video a year ago. Regardless of whether it is justified or if you agree, it sets an interesting precedent.
— Stephen (@SteviePSport) November 17, 2022
IF YOU LOVE RUGBY, DON’T MISS:
The story of the British & Irish Lions tour in Two Sides
Full Statement from World Rugby on Rassie Erasmus:
World Rugby has reviewed the recent social media posts by SA Rugby Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus that relate to match officiating in the Autumn Nations Series.
Match officials are the backbone of the sport and without them there is no game. World Rugby condemns any public criticism of match official selection, performance or integrity, which undermines their role, the trust-based coach/match officials feedback process and the values of integrity, respect, solidarity and discipline that are at the heart of the sport.
The behaviour of coaching staff and match officials are widely observed by fans, media and participants at every level, and such behaviours affect how the values are applied across the game.
In addition, under the Match Officials Communication Framework, national teams have the ability to enter into a confidential feedback process, which is critical for success in a high-performance environment. The success of these communications relies on direct and honest feedback which is delivered and received in a confidential way.
In line with the Framework, World Rugby has the ability to impose a sanction where a breach has occurred. Having considered the matter World Rugby has issued a two-match ban against Rassie Erasmus and accordingly he may not take part in any match day activity in relation to the two upcoming test matches that South Africa has against Italy on 19 November, 2022 and England on 26 November, 2022. The ban includes engagement with media and social media in relation to match officials. Source: World Rugby here.