World Rugby is under pressure to make an example of ’maverick’ Rassie Erasmus
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DURBAN - SA director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus steps into the World Rugby dock today to answer charges of misconduct and bringing the game into disrepute in a case that has split opinion across the rugby world.
There are many who feel the maverick Erasmus is a law unto his own and deserves a heavy censure, while others have applauded him for using the public domain to take on World Rugby’s allegedly ineffectual refereeing department.
Before the court is Erasmus’s 62-minute video dissection of the refereeing performances of Australian Nic Berry and his supporting match officials in the first Test between the Springboks and British and Irish Lions on July 24.
Erasmus was incensed by a litany of discrepancies and inconsistencies, not to mention a perceived lack of respect shown to captain Siya Kolisi. He cleverly chose a social media platform to air the dirty laundry from that match because he knew this was the only way to turn the heat up on the erring officials.
He wanted to ensure they gave the Boks a better rub of the green in the second Test, which the South Africans duly won in one of the longest ever Test matches – the officials were so afraid of making a mistake that just about every stoppage in play was subjected to pain-staking scrutiny from the TMO.
Erasmus and his employers were then formally charged by World Rugby and it is known that a number of top-tier countries have called on the governing body to throw the book at the South Africans.
If this happened, it could be the first time the limp-wristed World Rugby did anything of consequence.
Among those calling for blood are the unions making up the Lions – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, while Australia has climbed in boots and all because one of their referees (Berry) was the focal point of the rant.
Erasmus knows he will not get away with a slap on the wrist in the online hearing. World Rugby is under pressure to make an example of him and the sanctions vary from a lengthy suspension from the game, a fine for SA Rugby and, radically, the forfeiture of the result of the second Test between the Boks and the Lions, which would mean a series win for the tourists.
Whatever the outcome, Erasmus has made his point that officiating needs a serious overhaul.