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'I will step way' - Erasmus releases hour long, rambling 'clear the air' video

By Ian Cameron
Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus

Springboks Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has released an unprecedented hour-long – at times rambling – ‘clear the air’ video in which he has gone into detail about the British and Irish Lions, Warren Gatland, referee Nic Berry and his use of social media.

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In an unprecedented moment for the sport, in which Erasmus says he will step away from the final two Tests if need be, stating his only desire was for a fair contest for the remainder of the series.

He has said that he ‘wasn’t convinced’ with the clarity given by referee Nic Berry and details how he and the Springbok were rebuffed after requesting a clarification meeting with Berry on the Sunday following the game. Erasmus then said that he was told the meeting could not be held until after Berry and his officials had sat down with World Rugby’s head of refereeing, Joël Jutge.

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Rassie clears the air

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Rassie clears the air

“We definitely felt the way things unfolded on the field didn’t benefit us by staying quiet,” said Erasmus.  “That’s why I would probably like World Rugby head of referees Joel (Jutge), (World Rugby director of rugby) Joe (Schmidt), (match referee) Nic (Berry), (ARs) Mathieu (Raynal), Ben (O’Keeffe), (TMO) Marius Jonker, (host broadcasters) Supersport maybe if you guys get this – I’m not sure who this is going to.”

He also explained why he had taken the role of water carrier, a move that had been criticised by some rugby pundits, including Clive Woodward.

“I myself, as director of rugby, if this causes that I’m not allowed to be a water carrier, I’ll step away from being a water carrier. If this means we’re going to get a fine, I’ll step away from the team management. If this means that the Springboks will be in trouble, I’ll say I did this in isolation, it’s me personally that did this and not SA Rugby and not the Springboks.

“Because I believe in fairness and the system and I believe in two teams having equal chance of competing in the match.

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“I’m not saying the referee was a cheat at all, I’m saying we just wanted clarity on a Sunday night and didn’t get until a Tuesday and, to be honest, I am not very convinced with the clarity we got from Nic Berry in this match.

“I’ve had previous encounters where I made mistakes, saying things in public about referees, and normally it comes back to bite you, but in this instance the Lions only comes around every 12 years.

“It should be fair, I’ll step away from the last two Test matches, but let the Springboks and the Lions have an equal chance on the field when it comes to laws, respect, the way players get treated, what is said in a pre-match coaches meeting with the referees, how they give feedback post that and how things get said in the media.”

It’s a left-field move from Erasmus, who has come in for a lot of criticism for his behavior following the first Test defeat to the Lions.

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After a 15 minutes intro in which he says he will not blame the referee for the loss, Erasmus then details a lengthy list of the infringements made by the Lions.

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finn 6 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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