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South African rugby director Rassie Erasmus challenged World Rugby to go after him in an hour-long video rant last week and the governing body responded by indicting him for misconduct.
Erasmus has publicly criticized the match officials in the ongoing series with the British and Irish Lions, and it was condemned in a statement by World Rugby. The body also cited SA Rugby and disapproved of the management of both teams. They were reminded of ‘their obligations to the values of the sport’.
Erasmus began making potshots at the Lions for the Test series after Lions coach Warren Gatland criticized a recklessly high tackle by Faf de Klerk while playing for South Africa A.
Erasmus then used videos on social media to question the legality of Owen Farrell’s tackle technique. But former Springboks coach escalated the tit-for-tat after the Lions won the first Test 22-17.
He reposted Twitter videos of alleged malicious intent by the Lions in the test and then denied that the original account was his burner account.
But the entertainment turned unconventional last week when Erasmus presented a 62-minute video that destroyed Nic Berry’s referee in the first test. Erasmus used 26 clips to highlight errors or inconsistencies that he believes cost the Springboks.
Spring boxing assistant coach Mzwandile Stick accused the Lions of “destroying the dignity of the series” when they expressed concern over the appointment of South African Marius Jonker as the televised match official.
Spring boxing coach Jacques Nienaber said on Saturday before the second test that Erasmus had their support. They won the second test 27-9 and the series will be decided this Saturday in Cape Town.
World Rugby asked for an explanation from SA Rugby last Friday and made the double citation with a reprimand from both team managements.
“Game officials are the backbone of the sport, and without them there is no competition,” the statement said.
“World Rugby condemns any public criticism of their selection, performance or integrity that undermines their role, the coach officials’ established and trust-based feedback process and, most importantly, the values that are at the heart of the sport.
“Following a full review of all available information, World Rugby is concerned that individuals from both teams have made comments about the selection and/or performance of match officials.
“However, the comprehensive and direct nature of Rassie Erasmus’s comments within a video address, in particular, meets the threshold for being considered a violation of World Rugby Rule 18 (Misconduct and Code of Conduct) and will now be considered by an independent disciplinary committee.
“World Rugby has reminded the management of both teams of the importance of this area and their commitment to the values of the sport.”
A hearing date was not given, which could leave Erasmus free to continue in the test series as a water carrier and also relay messages on the field.
World Rugby added that it will review its code of conduct in response to public criticism from match officials to strengthen its rules and sanctions.
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