South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has been found guilty of misconduct by an independent committee for his hour-long video critique of match officials, particularly Australian referee Nic Berry, during the British & Irish Lions series – but he says he will appeal against the verdict.
Erasmus, who coached the Springboks to the 2019 Rugby World Cup title, has been banned from all rugby activity for two months after six charges of misconduct against him were upheld, World Rugby announced on Wednesday.
He’s also suspended from all match-day activities, including coaching and media engagement, until September 30, 2022 while South Africa Rugby has been fined Stg 20,000 ($A37,000), World Rugby said.
Erasmus, who was also told he must apologise to the officials he criticised, has indicated he will appeal the verdict, as will SA Rugby.
“SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus have noted the decision of World Rugby’s judicial committee. Both parties confirmed they will exercise their rights to appeal the verdicts,” a joint statement on Wednesday said.
“Neither party will make any further comment until the process is complete.”
The Springboks play their final game of the autumn international series against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Though Jacques Nienaber is now the head coach of the side, he has made no secret of the fact that Erasmus has a heavy input, from training to team selection.
The two-month ban, if upheld, will have little material effect as the Boks are not expected to be in action after this weekend until July 2022, while the match-day suspension for Erasmus will not stop him from helping to prepare the team.
The 49-year-old Erasmus was unhappy with numerous decisions by Berry in the 22-17 first Test loss to the Lions in Cape Town in July, and further displeased when his efforts to engage with the official the following day were rebuffed.
He made a 62-minute video that was a critique of the performance of the match officials, including what he termed “disrespect” shown to Bok captain Siya Kolisi.
The video, Erasmus says, was intended to be sent to World Rugby officials and Berry only.
Instead, it found its way onto a public viewing platform and started to circulate on social media.
The misconduct committee found that Erasmus had told Berry he would publish the video unless the latter agreed to a meeting, and then carried out the threat.
He was also found guilty of making comments in the video that were “either abusive, insulting and/or offensive to match officials”.
Among other charges were the allegations that he had attacked, disparaged and/or denigrated the game and match officials, did not accept the decisions of match officials, created a scenario that may impair public confidence in match officials and brought the game into disrepute.