If not Rassie, then who did leak the Lions video?
South Africa Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has finally opened up on the drama surrounding the 2021 British and Irish Lions.
The 2021 Lions tour will be remembered for a ray of things.
It was played in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, while violent riots and looting of malls and businesses mainly in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal also posed a massive threat to the tour.
However, none of these events was as highly reported on as Erasmus’ infamous 62-minute video following the first Test between the Springboks and the British & Irish Lions.
In the video, Erasmus pointed out errors made by Australian referee Nic Berry during the first Test, in which the Boks lost 17-22.
The video was leaked onto social media the following week and received worldwide condemnation.
Erasmus was later charged by World Rugby with misconduct and banned from attending any match day rugby activities for a year.
However, how exactly the video made its way onto social media remains a mystery as Erasmus has consistently denied leaking it onto Twitter.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Erasmus reiterated that he did not leak the video.
“People think I leaked that video. I didn’t,” Erasmus told Nik Simon in the Daily Mail. “Who leaks something like that? Why would I screw up my whole career to do that? I’ve got twin girls, 18 years old, who are at school and they hear other parents telling them how their dad had f***** it all up.
“My mum is at an old-age home and they’re showing her articles saying, ‘Rassie’s lost it, he’s got depression, he’s drunk.’ They think those things because they are indoctrinated that I leaked that video. I want to tell the world that, swearing on my youngest child’s life, I did not leak that video.
“Many people have already made up their mind. How do you change people’s perception when World Rugby has found me guilty and banned me for 12 months?
“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I just want them to know what really happened.”
In an effort to make sense of the whole saga, Erasmus explained he tried to contact Berry on Sunday. And after failing in his attempt he then decided the film the video which he only sent to Berry, World Rugby head of referees Joel Jutge and World Rugby director of rugby Joe Schmidt.
‘There were also many decisions that I disagreed with and wanted clarity on. I phoned Nic on the Sunday after the game to discuss all of this but was unsuccessful in setting up a meeting.
“Instead, I provided him with video clips of the decisions I required clarity on.
‘The feedback I received was inadequate. Only the obvious and not so critical mistakes were admitted, but the serious mistakes which affected the outcome of the match were not.
“We tried again to engage but we were unsuccessful so I decided the only way to get clarity on the decisions was to send this voiceover video that the whole rugby world has now seen. I often send videos after the match. It is not unusual for me. I did it at the 2019 World Cup and it was all fine.
“It’s a good way to explain and communicate things that require clarification. Joel came back to me and said, ‘Great work, you’ve got competent people there, we picked up the same things in our review’. I went back to the players and said, ‘We’re OK, we’ll have a great chance on Saturday”. Point made. Move on.
“So why would I make this one public when I don’t make any of the others public? I only sent it to Joel and Joe at World Rugby, the ref, my CEO who was tour director, our head coach and my players. I submitted the video link to the restricted group using Vimeo, which is secure and safe.
“It was not possible for anyone to even search for the video on any search engine without the link. I have been using this platform for ages and there has never been a breach of confidentiality. If I wanted to leak it, there were many more effective ways to do it. Out of those I sent it to, only Joel and Joe were not in South Africa.
“I looked at the viewing history and eight of the first 35 views were in Australia. How? Why on earth would I leak it to guys in Australia? It comes out and suddenly I look like the villain. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Erasmus admitted: “The mistake I made was not putting a password on the link.
“I didn’t think it was necessary. I compounded that by not warning that it was confidential. So I accept and agree with World Rugby’s finding that a public leak was almost inevitable.
“I have to live with that and I unconditionally accept their verdict and the sanction imposed. I won’t challenge or criticise that in any way. But I repeat to you, I am not the person who leaked that video.
“All the reports just assumed I leaked it. Why? People thought I was losing the plot because they were all thinking: why the hell would you do this? The answer is that I didn’t. It felt awful. It’s like someone calling you a thief when you know you’re not.”
So it begs the question: if Erasmus didn’t share the URL to the Vimeo video, who did and more importantly, why?
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