South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby will face an independent misconduct hearing for comments regarding match official performance following the first Test in the series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions.
Erasmus made comments on twitter and then launched a one-hour long criticism of referee Nick Berry and the match officials from the first Test, that South Africa lost, in Cape Town.
World Rugby have today released a statement regarding the matter.
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 by saying that they have noted the charges and will respond through the designated channels. They will make no further comment until the process is complete.
Earlier they had said that they were happy with how the officials handled the second Test, that the Springboks won 27-9.
“There was good communication between the referee and the captain throughout the game, and we were able to express ourselves in the way that we want to and play the type of rugby that we feel is our strength,” said South Africa’s assistant coach Deon Davids.
Meanwhile, the Springboks have added three more players to their squad ahead of the series decider on August 14.
Wing Rosko Specman, loose-forward Dan du Preez and uncapped hooker Johan Grobbelaar are the latest additions after the Boks called on rookie scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse and the experienced number eight Duane Vermeulen over the weekend.