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'Rassie should be commended': Support for Erasmus as hearing nears

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is preparing to step into the World Rugby dock with a ringing endorsement from ex-Springboks boss Ian McIntosh, who feels Erasmus should be commended for last month’s spectacular refereeing outburst and a committee formed to revise contradictory laws which he feels have made a nonsense of the sport. 


It was July 29, two days before the second Springboks versus Lions Test match in Cape Town, when the infamous 62-minute Erasmus tirade regarding the first Test level of officiating became public two days after it was initially filmed.

The scattergun outburst eventually led to World Rugby issuing a misconduct charge against Erasmus and SA Rugby on August 2 that is expected to be held virtually in the coming weeks after the Springboks fly out to Australia on Thursday to play the remainder of the 2021 Rugby Championship. Submissions are still being awaited from SA Rugby and a hearing date (if required) will then be set.

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Erasmus’ heavy-handed criticism cast a cloud over the three-match Lions series and it is believed that the four home unions that comprise the Lions as well as Australia, the country where first Test referee Nic Berry hails from, want World Rugby to come down heavily on the Springboks director.

However, there are others who have been sympathetic to the headline-making rant by the South Africa rugby boss, including McIntosh who coached the Springboks for two years after they were welcomed back into the Test level fold post-apartheid in the early 1990s. 

Speaking in an interview published on, McIntosh claimed: “It is not for me to say whether Rassie used the correct channels but I do feel that something had to be done to gain the attention of the officials because the game has become far too complicated and a stop-start affair.

“It has been spoilt for players, coaches and the spectators. The game has become over-officiated because of too many ‘provisions’ being added each year to the laws. Instead of World Rugby disciplining Rassie, he should be commended and a committee established to revise the laws which are too many, contradictory, and in some cases, nonsensical.


“Can someone respectfully inform World Rugby that the laws were intended to keep the game flowing, not stop it, and that the referee should become No31 on the field again and not No1.

“Our very own Dr Danie Craven, a doyen of world rugby, was involved in writing half the laws and he once said that behind every law should be written in brackets ‘But don’t blow it if the infringement doesn’t stop play from continuing’.

“Yet referees seem hell-bent on looking for penalties instead of letting the game go. How else is it possible for an average of 25-30 penalties to be dished out in a game? The old adage of blow the game and not the law has gone out the window.

“And just knowing the laws doesn’t make a referee. It’s about how they are applied that is the difference between a good and bad referee, like a good fly-half who knows how to read the game and to use the ball accordingly.”



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