Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby to appeal against World Rugby verdict

18 November 2021 - 09:08
Rassie Erasmus has been banned by World Rugby for his behaviour towards match officials during the British and Irish Lions series.
Rassie Erasmus has been banned by World Rugby for his behaviour towards match officials during the British and Irish Lions series.
Image: EJ LANGNER/GALLO IMAGES

SA Rugby and its director of rugby Rassie Erasmus have confirmed that they will appeal against the decisions handed out by World Rugby’s judicial committee against them on Wednesday.

World Rugby banned Erasmus for two months from all rugby activities with immediate effect and the body also hit SA Rugby with a fine of £20,000.

The controversial Erasmus was found guilty on all six charges against him after he put together a 62-minute video that hit out at Australian referee Nic Berry and TMO Marius Jonker's officiating during the Springboks' first Test loss to the British and Irish Lions in July.

SA Rugby and Erasmus said they will be appealing against the decision.

“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. Neither party will make any further comment until the process is complete,” the two parties said.

On Wednesday an independent misconduct committee found that the behaviour displayed by Erasmus towards match officials during this year’s Test series between SA and the British and Irish Lions constituted misconduct.

The committee was chaired by Christopher Quinlan QC, together with Nigel Hampton QC and Judge Mike Mika (both from New Zealand).

Six charges were brought by World Rugby against Erasmus for various breaches of World Rugby regulation 18, and World Rugby’s code of conduct.

The charges in summary were that Erasmus:

  • threatened a match official that unless a requested meeting took place, he would publish footage containing clips criticising the match official’s performance and then making good on that threat; published or permitted to be published the Erasmus video containing numerous comments that were either abusive, insulting and/or offensive to match officials;
  • attacked, disparaged and/or denigrated the game and the match officials;
  • did not accept or observe the authority and decisions of match officials;
  • published or caused to be published criticism of the manner in which a match official handled a match;
  • engaged in conduct or activity that may impair public confidence in the integrity and good character of match official(s);
  • and brought the game into disrepute when he published or caused to be published the Erasmus video.

Having considered all the evidence, including oral evidence from the match officials,  Erasmus, SA Rugby, World Rugby, and submissions from the parties, the committee found against Erasmus. 

Two charges were brought by World Rugby against SA Rugby in accordance with World Rugby regulation 18 and the World Rugby code of conduct. In summary, the charges were that SA Rugby:

  • did not ensure that Rassie Erasmus complied with the World Rugby code of conduct and/or permitted Erasmus to commit acts of misconduct; and/or did not publicly correct any comments or publications by or on behalf of Erasmus that amounted to misconduct;
  • and permitted and/or did not prevent Siya Kolisi and Mzwandile Stick to make comments at a press conference on July 30 that were not disciplined or sporting and adversely affected the game of rugby; and/or did not publicly correct any such comments so as adversely affected the game of rugby.

Having considered submissions on behalf of both parties in respect of sanction, the independent committee decided on the following:

Rassie Erasmus

1) Suspension with immediate effect from all rugby activities for two months

2) Suspension from all match-day activities (including coaching, contact with match officials, and media engagement) with immediate effect until September 30 2022

3) A warning as to his future conduct and an apology to the relevant match officials.

SA Rugby

1) A fine of £20,000

2) A warning as to future conduct and an apology to the relevant match officials

The parties have seven days to appeal from receipt of the full written decision.

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