Rassie Erasmus bans “match day activities” for …

World Rugby has declared South African rugby manager Rassie Erasmus guilty on six counts of misconduct and made it public on Wednesday, just 72 hours before the Springboks face England at Twickenham.

Erasmus was banned from all rugby activities for two months after being charged with six counts of misconduct resulting from a 62-minute video posted in July.

World Rugby, the sport’s governing body, used combination clause 18 of its code of conduct to accuse Erasmus of misconduct, breaking it down into six separate counts, of which he was convicted on each count of charge. They were the following:

  1. Erasmus (i) threatened a match official that unless a requested meeting took place he would post footage containing clips criticizing the match official’s performance and then follow up on the threat; and (ii) posted or authorized to post the Erasmus video containing numerous comments which were either offensive, insulting and / or offensive to match officials.
  2. Erasmus posted or authorized the posting of the Erasmus video containing numerous comments that attacked, denigrated and / or denigrated the game and match officials appointed by World Rugby to officiate the 2021 B&I Lions Series.
  3. Erasmus did not accept or observe the authority and decisions of the match officials, he posted or had the Erasmus video posted containing criticism of 38 different refereeing decisions in the first South Africa test against B&I Lions on the 24th July 2021.
  4. Erasmus posted or had published, criticism of how a match official handled a match when they posted or had the Erasmus video published containing reviews of 38 different refereeing decisions in the first South Africa test against B&I Lions on July 24, 2021.
  5. Erasmus has engaged in any conduct or activity which could undermine public confidence in the integrity and good character of match officials.
  6. Erasmus brought the game into disrepute when it published or had the Erasmus video published.

The last testimonies of this hearing were heard on October 31 and the verdict was delivered to SA Rugby (Saru) and Erasmus last week. But a hearing to finalize the sanctions was rushed and held on November 15, instead of waiting for the Boks’ last test of the year against England next weekend. It is curious to say the least.

Erasmus is also suspended from all match day activities, including training and media engagement, until September 30, 2022. This means he will not be allowed at Twickenham when the Boks face England in of a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final this weekend.

“An independent misconduct committee has found that the behavior displayed by SA Rugby Rugby Director Rassie Erasmus towards match officials during this year’s test series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions constitutes misconduct, “said a statement from World Rugby.

SA Rugby (Saru), the employers of Erasmus, were also found guilty of two counts.

“Saru did not ensure that Rassie Erasmus complied with the World Rugby Code of Conduct and / or authorized Mr. Erasmus to commit acts of misconduct; and / or has not publicly corrected any comments or posts by or on behalf of Mr. Erasmus that constitute misconduct.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi. (Photo: Steve Haag / Gallo Images)

“Saru allowed and / or did not prevent Siya Kolisi and Mzwandile Stick from making comments at a press conference on July 30, 2021 that were neither disciplined nor athletic and harmed rugby; and / or has not publicly corrected such comments in such a way as to adversely affect the game of rugby. “

Saru has been fined 400,000 Rand and must apologize to the match officials involved.

Erasmus and Saru have both said they will appeal the sanctions.

The video

Erasmus dissected Australian official Nic Berry’s substandard refereeing performance in the first test between the Springboks and the British & Irish Lions on July 24 in the now infamous video.

The video, which Erasmus said was sent to specific people on the Bok team and World Rugby, was leaked to the public on July 27. The panel rejected Erasmus’ claims that it was a leak without his knowledge or permission, concluding, on a balance of probabilities, that it was a deliberate act.

The panel, chaired by Christopher Quinlan QC, along with Nigel Hampton QC and Judge Mike Mika (both New Zealanders), supported match officials and found Erasmus guilty.

The panel acknowledged that Erasmus was frustrated with Berry’s lack of return after the match, but found Erasmus guilty of threatening the official to leak the video.

“One of the points raised by the interviewees (Saru and Erasmus) is that the referees must be able to accept comments,” said the judgment. “It’s a fair observation. However, there is a difference between feedback and abuse. This video was not feedback, understood. It was an ad hominem attack, which, as we have said, lacked detached analysis or balance.

The panel also portrays Berry as the victim and explains in detail how the public release of the video caused him pain and suffering. Yet the same panel lightly dismisses Siya Kolisi’s claims that he felt disrespectful by Berry, which Erasmus pointed out in the video.

At a press conference on July 30, the day before the Second Test against the Lions, Kolisi answered a question about whether he felt disrespectful by Berry during the First Test. He confirmed he did.

“We have no reason to doubt the authenticity of his feelings (of Siya). However, this is not the same as stating as a fact that he was not respected nor that those feelings are correct, ”the verdict reads.

“During his testimony, Nic Berry told us that he had ‘massive respect’ for Siya Kolisi as a person and as a player. We wholeheartedly accept Nic Berry’s testimony that he and his team of officials did not intentionally disrespect Siya Kolisi.

Somehow, Kolisi’s lived experience was diminished by the panel as not being “fact,” but Berry and his team’s actions were not intentional.

The panel accepted Berry’s version “wholeheartedly”, but had reservations about Kolisi’s feelings. Staging.

In their summary, the panel acknowledged Erasmus’s unblemished disciplinary record after 25 years in professional rugby, but pronounced the suspension because the nature of the video was so serious.

“Erasmus’s misconduct is far more serious than any of the cases that have been cited to us,” said the judgment. “This was a particularly serious and egregious example of such an offense.

“It involved multiple premeditated abusive and insulting comments and attacks on the integrity of officials during this 62-minute video.” DM


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Richard V. Johnson