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Springboks blank Rassie questions but row isn't going away

By Rugby365
Damian Willemse of the Springboks reacts during The Rugby Championship match between the Australia Wallabies and South Africa Springboks at Allianz Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi did his most eloquent tap-dance to suggest it won’t be a distraction, but the Rassie Erasmus-saga is not going to go away quietly.

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While the South African Rugby Union has remained mum, despite several attempts by @rugby365com to get a reaction, messages have been flying around the world demanding ‘explanations’.

Erasmus was slapped with a two-match ban this past Thursday, after a firestorm erupted over the 2019 World Cup-winning coach’s social media activity.

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WATCH as Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi uses all his guile to void getting caught up in the media maelstrom swirling around the head of South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus – Take Three

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WATCH as Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi uses all his guile to void getting caught up in the media maelstrom swirling around the head of South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus – Take Three

Unlike his blunt criticism in an hour-long video during the British and Irish Lions tour last year – which earned him a nearly year-long ban – Erasmus has been satiric in his tweets (accompanied by videos) of the performance of English referee Wayne Barnes in the 26-30 loss to France in Marseille last week.

Reports in the South African media suggested that there is ‘not enough time’ for Erasmus to launch an appeal.

However, the Afrikaans website Netwerk24 reported that Erasmus had sent a letter with a number of ‘questions’ to World Rugby asking for an ‘explanation’ – a fact confirmed to Rugby365 by an independent source.

At the same time, the London-based Guardian reported that England’s Rugby Football Union lodged a complaint with SARU over Erasmus’ social media posts.

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According to the British newspaper, the RFU wrote an ‘angry letter’ to SARU, outlining how Barnes – who was taking charge of his 100th Test last Saturday in France’s narrow win over South Africa – has received online threats while his family has also been targeted.

Erasmus, on his Twitter account, touched on the threats.

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“Like myself, the referee of the French Test [Barnes] and his family have received threats and abuse,” Erasmus said. “Apparently it’s partly due to my tweets, which is totally unfounded.

“Tweets were not aimed at the officials, but to our South African fans on what we should do better.”

Erasmus concluded the tweet with a directive to his followers and other users: “Have a go at me, not the ref!!”

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The two-match ban means South Africa’s Director of Rugby will miss the Springboks’ clash with Italy in Genoa on Saturday and their encounter with England at Twickenham next week.

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However, there appear to be growing calls for his SARU to take further action.

He had only recently returned from a 12-month ban from match-day activities for his hour-long video and forensic criticism of the Australian referee Nic Berry during the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 2021.

“The RFU is understood to be concerned by the mental toll Erasmus’ comments can have on officials,” The Guardian reported.

According to the report the RFU wants Erasmus to delete his posts, which still appear on the Bok boss’ timeline.

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Jon 8 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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