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'Unacceptable' - Rugby Australia statement: Rassie Erasmus

By Ian Cameron
Rassie Erasmus /Getty

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Rugby Australia have blasted South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus following his hour-long video monologue critiquing the first Test officiating, with the union noting their ‘dismay and concern’.

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Erasmus dissected a multitude of decisions made by referee Nic Berry and TMO Marius Jonker following the Test match, with the maverick DoR even suggesting that Berry had laughed at Springboks’ skipper Siya Kolisi.

Rugby Australia has said they have communicated their concern at the precedent that has now been set by Erasmus.

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In a statement, they say: “Rugby Australia has noted with dismay and concern the recent public commentary by South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, regarding Australian referee Nic Berry and other match officials.

“There is no place for abuse of match officials in Australian Rugby, with Rugby Australia committed to promoting a fair, safe and inclusive Rugby experience for all participants, officials and fans.

“Rugby Australia believes the recent actions are unacceptable and against the spirit and values of the game.

Rugby Australia Chief Executive Andy Marinos said: “Match officials form the very fabric of our game – simply, the game would not exist without them. As a highly regarded and respected international referee appointed by World Rugby, the attack on Nic’s integrity, character and reputation is unacceptable.

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“We have been in contact with World Rugby, under whose auspices this Test Series sit, and understand that they are actively reviewing this matter as some facts presented were not accurate. It is important to ensure public attacks of this nature are not tolerated. We will continue to provide support to Nic at this time, as both his physical and mental wellbeing remains a priority for us,” Marinos said.

Erasmus addressed World Rugby’s head of referees Joel Jutge and rugby director Joe Schmidt in the rambling online rant, posted on Thursday.

Dressed in Springbok training gear, Erasmus offered detailed analysis on a host of decisions he believes Berry called incorrectly in last weekend’s first Test.

“There is a vast difference between who he was taking seriously and who he wasn’t taking seriously,” said Erasmus, critical of Berry’s treatment of South Africa captain Siya Kolisi.

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“The way they listened to Siya compared to the way they listened to Alun Wyn was definitely not with the same respect. It shows the difference in attitude towards the Springboks and the Lions.

“If this means I get a fine I will step away from the management team. If this means the Springboks will be in trouble I will say I did this in isolation.”

Global game chiefs World Rugby hold a dim view on Erasmus’ rant, but have so far held back from launching an official investigation.

“World Rugby notes the comments made by Rassie Erasmus,” read a World Rugby statement.

“The nature of these will be raised with the union via the usual official channels and no further comment will be made at this stage.”

– additional reporting PA

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