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Former Bok boss breaks rank to support World Rugby's Erasmus decision

By Ian Cameron
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus

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Former Springbok head coach Nick Mallett has broken ranks, broadly coming out in support of the World Rugby’s decision to sanction current Bok Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.


The governing body had earlier in the week given Erasmus a two-month ban for publicly criticising Australian referee Nic Berry over his performance in the first Springboks-Lions Test.

Mallett – so often the voice on reason among South Africa’s at times partisan commentary on the Erasmus saga – bemoaned the length of time it took to arrive at the decision, but admitted that their conclusion was hard to argue with.

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“I think a couple of things. First of all, it took a tremendous amount of time before this came out and that’s a real disappointment,” Mallett told a Super Sport panel over the weekend. “If a player gets sent off for a red card, it’s done within a week. Obviously, they were very concerned with what happened. They were very concerned about the defence that SA Rugby and Rassie were going to put up. They didn’t want to slip up on this at all and they wanted to make sure they crossed their Ts and dotted their Is with regard to the report.

“It’s taken ages, four months I think, before it has come out.

“They have come down very, very heavily on Rassie. If you look at what they were asked to adjudicate on, it’s hard to argue that they were incorrect.”

Mallett, who coached the Springboks between 1996 and 2000 said that the South African public have confused legitimate criticism of Nic Berry’s performance with the fact that Erasmus is obliged to follow World Rugby protocols.


“When you go through his tape, it’s not a question of whether he was correct if Nic Berry had a poor game, which I still believe Nic Berry did have a very poor game. That wasn’t what they were allowed to adjudicate on. They had to adjudicate on whether Rassie broke World Rugby laws in terms of the way in which directors of rugby and coaches deal with decisions.

“In South Africa, we have slightly confused the issue. We’ve said that perhaps they should have looked and seen what the mistakes were that Nic Berry made and that should mitigate against what Rassie did. Unfortunately, when you are an affiliate of World Rugby, you have to obey World Rugby’s laws.

“As a rugby player you can say ‘I don’t like the maul therefore I am going to collapse it’ but you are always going to get penalised if you collapse the maul. You might not like the law, but you have to play by it. Rassie is a director of rugby and he has to abide by World Rugby laws and he was found that he didn’t. He has been heavily sanctioned for that.”



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