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World Rugby statement: Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby

By Ian Cameron
South African coach Rassie Erasmus is ramping up preparations for his team's busy 2019 schedule (Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

Springbok Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus is set to face a judicial hearing following his controversial video criticising refereeing in the first Test of the Lions series – World Rugby have confirmed.


Erasmus released a 62-minute long video last week criticising referee Nic Berry and his officials. As well as highlighting perceived deficiencies in the refereeing, he also suggested that Berry has not treated Springbok captain Siya Kolisi with the respect he deserved.

The video was heavily criticised, with Rugby Australia effectively demanding action from the governing body in a public statement released last Friday.

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A World Rugby statement this evening reads: “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.


“World Rugby has reminded the management of both teams of the importance of this area and their obligations regarding the values of the sport. In order to protect the integrity of the sport and its values, World Rugby will also undertake a review of its Code of Conduct relating to incidents of this nature with a view to strengthening scope, rules and sanctions.

“As with any test series, South Africa versus the British and Irish Lions is a showcase of rugby that generates great excitement and interest, even more so at this challenging time for sport and society. It is an opportunity for both teams and their management to set a positive example and concentrate on the spectacle and a wonderful example of rugby and its values at their best.”

SA Rugby responded saying: “SA Rugby has noted the charges brought by World Rugby and will respond through the designated channels. Media are advised that there will be no further comment from SA Rugby until the process is complete.”


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