Lions Tour 2021: Rassie Erasmus charged with misconduct over video rant

Rassie Erasmus has been summoned to appear before an independent misconduct hearing to explain his criticism of the match officials in the first Test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions.

Rassie Erasmus, South Africa's director of rugby, with Springboks captain Siya Kolisi. Picture: Steve Haag/PA Wire
Rassie Erasmus, South Africa's director of rugby, with Springboks captain Siya Kolisi. Picture: Steve Haag/PA Wire

Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby, took to Twitter last week to highlight a number of incidents in the match, which the Lions won 22-17.

He then posted a 62-minute video on social media on Thursday in which he was scathing about how the officials handled the game, in particular Nic Berry, the match referee from Australia.

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Erasmus suggested that Berry had treated Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi and Lions counterpart Alun Wyn Jones differently.

Rassie Erasmus, the Springboks director of rugby acting as a water carrier, talks to his team during the second Test against the Lions. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

World Rugby has now decided to take action and have ordered him to appear before the hearing.

In a strongly worded statement, the game’s governing body stressed the importance of respecting the integrity of referees and criticised the behaviour of both sides.

However, it is Erasmus who is the main focus of its ire.

World Rugby said: “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.

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“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.

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“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.”

South African rugby’s governing body responded with a short statement of its own.

“SA Rugby has noted the charges brought by World Rugby and will respond through the designated channels,” it said. “Media are advised that there will be no further comment from SA Rugby until the process is complete.”

South Africa bounced back from the defeat by the Lions in the opening Test to win the second Test 27-9 in Cape Town at the weekend and take the series to an eagerly-anticipated decider this Saturday at the same venue.

Both sides are due to name their teams for the match on Tuesday.

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