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Nigel Owens weighs in on Erasmus' Tweet storms with a stern message

By Sam Smith
(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Former referee Nigel Owens is the latest high profile name to step into the debate around Springboks Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and his methods of social media use.

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After serving a 12-month ban following the explosive hour length tirade during the Lions tour, Erasmus immediately began sharing videos of match footage on his Twitter after South Africa’s 19-16 loss to Ireland in Dublin.

This activity intensified in the wake of the 30-26 loss to France in Paris with Erasmus going on a tweet rampage sharing a host of clips that didn’t go the Springboks way with thinly veiled captions.

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Owens, one of the game’s most prominent refereeing figures, has weighed in on the developments on The Telegraph’s Rugby Podcast, admitting he was initially shocked and suspected possibly a fake profile.

“I saw these [videos] come up and I was thinking ‘is this his genuine profile? Is he doing this?’” Owens said.

“To me, we don’t need that in the game and I’d have thought he’d have learned his lesson by now, if it is him doing this. There’s a procedure in place.

“If you’re not happy about decisions, or you have questions about decisions – as every coach would have – referees can’t get everything right, there is a process to go through.

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“You send your timeline to the referee manager, which would be Joel Jutge at World Rugby, and they would look at that with the referee.

“Then they would reply to the coach and say: ‘Yeah, this could have been penalised’ or ‘the referee is correct here’.

“Or, like a lot of things in rugby, it’s: ‘This is a grey one. This is what the referee feels and it’s his interpretation of it [but] it could well have gone the other way’. That’s the nature of the game.”

A portion of South African supporters have been right behind the Director of Rugby claiming it proves bias against them, while others are getting tired of Erasmus’ antics which only occur after Springbok losses.

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The former Welsh international referee didn’t believe this approach by Erasmus was in line with rugby values or good for the game, which has been heavily divisive online for fans.

“Once you start putting things out there on social media questioning decisions, that’s not what this game is about, I don’t think. I don’t think this it’s right and I don’t like it.

“Go through the proper channels, and as long as everyone is open and honest and transparent… that is the way forward, not [to do it] on social media.”

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