World Rugby to address Rassie Erasmus criticism via ‘official channels’

South Africa’s director of rugby was heavily critical of referee Nic Berry in an hour-long video following the first Test against the Lions.
World Rugby to address Rassie Erasmus criticism via ‘official channels’

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent

Rassie Erasmus has offered to stand down from South Africa’s series against the British and Irish Lions after posting online an hour-long video in which he launches an unprecedented attack on referee Nic Berry.

Erasmus’ monologue lasts 62 minutes and includes 26 clips from Saturday’s 22-17 first Test defeat by the Lions at Cape Town Stadium, with Berry’s performance repeatedly in the crosshairs.

South Africa’s director of rugby is addressing World Rugby’s head of referees Joel Jutge and director of rugby Joe Schmidt during the video, in which he says he is willing to quit for the second and third matches of the series.

Referee Nic Berry (left) has had his performance in Saturday's first Test pulled apart by Rassie Erasmus
Referee Nic Berry, left, has had his performance in Saturday’s first Test pulled apart by Rassie Erasmus (Ashley Western/PA)

World Rugby is understood to be concerned and disappointed by comments that pile pressure on to the officials for Saturday’s second Test and is seeking an explanation from his union, SA Rugby.

“World Rugby notes the comments made by Rassie Erasmus. The nature of these will be raised with the union via the usual official channels and no further comment will be made at this stage,” a statement from the game’s global governing body read.

An extraordinary rant sees Erasmus, dressed in a Springbok training top and cap, provide detailed analysis of every decision he believes Berry got wrong.

Among the many criticisms he makes of the Australian official is that he treated South Africa captain Siya Kolisi and Alun Wyn Jones, the Lions skipper, differently.

“There is a vast difference between who he was taking seriously and who he wasn’t taking seriously,” Erasmus said.

Siya Kolisi was treated differently by referee Nic Berry, according to Rassie Erasmus
Siya Kolisi was treated differently by referee Nic Berry, according to Rassie Erasmus (Steve Haag/PA)

“The way they listened to Siya compared to the way they listened to Alun Wyn was definitely not with the same respect. It shows the difference in attitude towards the Springboks and the Lions.”

He defends his controversial role as a water carrier, accuses the Lions’ illegal scrummaging of inflicting a neck injury to his prop Ox Nche and blasts Warren Gatland’s objection to Marius Jonker being appointed TMO.

Jonker, a South African, is in place for all three Tests after New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill was forced to pull out because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

But Berry, who is replaced by Ben O’Keeffe for the second Test but will still run the touchline, is the real target as Erasmus highlights a host of perceived inconsistencies and rails at the length of time it took to receive officiating feedback from World Rugby.

“We definitely felt that the way things unfolded on the field, didn’t benefit us by staying quiet,” said Erasmus, the mastermind of South Africa’s 2019 World Cup triumph, who revealed that the video was filmed on Tuesday.

The Lions also come under fire from Rassie Erasmus
The Lions also come under fire from Rassie Erasmus (Steve Haag/PA)

“In my position as director of rugby, if this means I step away from being water carrier, that is fine.

“If this means I get a fine I will step away from the management team. If this means the Springboks will be in trouble I will say I did this in isolation.

“If you think this was going over the top and it shouldn’t go out to the media, I did this in a personal capacity and not as part of the Springboks.

“It is me personally that did this because I believe in fairness. I believe two teams must have equal chance of competing in a match.

“I am not saying the referee was a cheat at all. I am saying we just wanted clarity on a Sunday night which we have now got on a Tuesday.

“I am not very convinced with the clarity with what we got from Nic Berry in this match.

“Let the Springboks and the Lions have equal chance on the field when it comes to laws, respect and the way players get treated.”

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