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Latest Erasmus tweet cautions Springboks fans abusing Wayne Barnes

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Rassie Erasmus has called on Springboks fans to stop abusing Wayne Barnes after the referee was threatened following his handling of last Saturday’s defeat versus France. The South African director of rugby published a series of tweets showing footage from the game, around which he made comments that his players would need to do better.

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Having copped a lengthy ban last year for his criticism of Nic Berry and his team of officials in the Springboks’ first Test defeat by the British and Irish Lions, Erasmus claimed in midweek that he wasn’t worried that he could again end up in hot water with World Rugby.

Erasmus insisted at a media briefing on Tuesday in Genoa ahead of this weekend’s game versus Italy that his social media messages were not a criticism of Barnes, who was in charge for his record-breaking 101 Test match. Instead, he explained that his social media postings following South Africa’s loss to France were published in the hope of better informing his team’s fans as to why they hadn’t won in Marseille.

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He has now followed up his media briefing explanation with a further tweet on Thursday that specified he was not being at all critical of referee Barnes and he has called on Springboks fans to have a go at him for the defeat and not the match official.

“Like myself, the referee of the French Test and his family have received threats and abuse,” he wrote. “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!!”

 

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Speaking about his publication of recent Springboks match footage on social media, which started with a ball kicked at a ruck that turned over possession for an Irish try and then a six-video series with action from the loss to the French, Erasmus had said on Tuesday: “We have always had the thing where we have stayed stronger together. I am talking about South Africans and when we get media out there it is all over the world and we have always been really close to our fans.

“For us, the fact that when something goes wrong on the field and I am sure people form their own opinions and that I understand, but I think if you go and listen to the tweet, it is actually for South African supporters to understand that listen here, there is something that some guys are doing really well which we either don’t understand.”

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