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The clause in Reg.18 that Rassie Erasmus may have breached

By Ian Cameron
South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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Reports this week suggest that Springboks Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus could be in line for a ‘severe’ punishment from World Rugby, following his hour-long video rant about the refereeing of the first Test of the British & Irish Lions tour.

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Adam Hathaway and Brenden Nel write in The Times that Erasmus ‘faces a severe punishment’ for the video which became a major talking point during the series and for which the World Cup winning head coach received widespread criticism.

Erasmus called into question multiple decisions during the game and controversially accused matchday referee Nic Berry of disrespecting Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi.

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World Rugby subsequently released a statement, in which they confirmed that both Erasmus and SA Rugby would face an independent disciplinary pane:  “South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby will face an independent misconduct hearing for comments regarding match official performance during the test series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions.

“Match officials are the backbone of the sport, and without them there is no game. World Rugby condemns any public criticism of their selection, performance or integrity which undermines their role, the well-established and trust-based coach-officials feedback process, and more importantly, the values that are at the heart of the sport.

“Having conducted a full review of all the available information, World Rugby is concerned that individuals from both teams have commented on the selection and/or performance of match officials.

“However, the extensive and direct nature of the comments made by Rassie Erasmus within a video address, in particular, meets the threshold to be considered a breach of World Rugby Regulation 18 (Misconduct and Code of Conduct) and will now be considered by an independent disciplinary panel. The date and panel will be confirmed in due course.

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But what is Regulation 18 and what clause might the Erasmus have breached? Regulation 18, broadly speaking, is the framework around the sport’s ‘misconduct and code of content’ protocols, which harmonizes the sport’s approach to the administration of discipline and the implementation of sanctions “at all levels of the Game”.

It seems that Erasmus may have breached is 18.4 (i) which states that the following would be perceived as a breach:   “making any comments (including to the media) that attack, disparage or denigrate the Game and/or any of its constituent bodies, World Rugby and/or its associated entities and its or their appointed personnel or commercial partners and/or Match Officials and/or disciplinary personnel (including Disciplinary Tribunals and Citing Commissioners).”

Given that World Rugby had flagged in their statement that it was Erasmus’ comments about the officials that they were most concerned about, it’s fair to surmise that it this clause that the case against Erasmus and SA Rugby will be argued.

If Erasmus and SA Rugby are found guilty, World Rugby has a raft of punishments that they can level against them.

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These include a sideline ban that would bring Erasmus’ gig moonlighting as a waterboy to an end and financial fines. On the more severe but less likely end of the spectrum, the governing body could even overturn the results of one or more matches in the series and, theoretically at least, award the series to the Lions.

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The clause in Reg.18 that Rassie Erasmus may have breached

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