Rassie Erasmus and South Africa Rugby have been summoned to an independent misconduct hearing following an extraordinary video rant following the first Test defeat by the British and Irish Lions.
Director of rugby Erasmus criticised Australian referee Nic Berry during a 62-minute dissection of his side’s 22-17 defeat in Cape Town aimed at World Rugby’s head of referees Joel Jutge and director of rugby and high performance Joe Schmidt and offered to stand down from his post.
In response, World Rugby has expressed disappointment with “individuals from both teams” commenting on the selection and performance of match officials, but went further with the Springboks hierarchy.
A statement said: “South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby will face an independent misconduct hearing for comments regarding match official performance during the Test series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions.
“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.”
🎥 A great performance in the second Test but it is all to play for in the third and final Test match against the @lionsofficial. #StrongerTogether #StrongerForever #CastleLionsSeries pic.twitter.com/FCjBsnwTbv
— Springboks (@Springboks) August 2, 2021
Erasmus, who has controversially combined his coaching duties with the role of water carrier, much to opposite number Warren Gatland’s annoyance, had suggested among other things that Berry had addressed South Africa captain Siya Kolisi and Lions counterpart Alun Wyn Jones differently.
Whatever his intention, he saw his side respond to their setback in determined fashion on Saturday as they squared the series with a commanding 27-9 victory to set up a winner-takes all clash this weekend.
However, both teams will run out in Cape Town once again having been warned as to their future conduct and with World Rugby reviewing its code of conduct.
The statement continued: “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.”
A statement from South Africa Rugby, issued via the Springboks’ official Twitter account, read: “SA Rugby has noted the charges brought by World Rugby and will respond through the designated channels. There will be no further comment from SA Rugby until the process is complete.”