Rassie Erasmus ups the stakes in war of words over match officiating

South Africa Director of Rugby claims that his players were not shown the same respect as the Lions by officials during first Test

Rassie Erasmus during his extraordinary 62 minute monologue to camera airing various gripes about how the first Springbok versus Lions Test was officiated
Rassie Erasmus during his extraordinary 62 minute monologue to camera airing various gripes about how the first Springbok versus Lions Test was officiated

RASSIE ERASMUS, Director of Rugby for South Africa Rugby, has doubled-down on his social media campaign against the officiating during last weekend’s first Test between the Springboks and Lions Test in Cape Town, by uploading an extraordinary hour-long video monologue on Vimeo.

The 48-year-old – who has already been forced deny that he is running a ‘burner’ Twitter account this week, and who has also accused Lions prop Mako Vunipola of being “reckless” and “dangerous” – says he has made this unprecedented move to ensure his side get an “equal chance” in Saturday’s crucial second Test.

During the monologue, Erasmus claims that South African players including captain Siya Kolisi did not get the respect afforded to the Lions and their skipper Alun Wyn Jones during last weekend’s first Test. He also expresses frustration that his request for feedback and clarity from referee Nic Berry on Sunday evening was not properly addressed until the Tuesday after the game.

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“To be honest, we are not very … or I, personally, am not very convinced with the clarity that we got from Nic Berry in this match,” he said.

“I have previous encounters when I have made mistakes saying things in public about referees and that normally comes back to bite you, but in this instance I believe the Lions only comes around every 12 years and I think it should be fair that I’ll step away from these last two Test matches,” he said. “But let the Springboks and the Lions have an equal chance on the field when it comes to laws, respect, the way players are treated, what is said in the coaches’ pre-match meeting with the referees, how they give feedback post-match and how things are said in the media.

“It’s comical the respect the [officials] showed towards the South African players compared to the Lions players.

“There was a vast difference between who he was taking serious and who he wasn’t taking serious.”

Erasmus, who was head coach of the Springboks side which won the 2019 World Cup, spoke direct to camera for 62 minutes in total, and said he had uploaded the content without SA Rugby’s knowledge.

After explaining how he tried in vain to contact Berry on Sunday evening to seek “clarity”, Erasmus micro-analyses 26 clips and over 30 referee decisions which he believes went against the Springboks. He states at one point that Lions’ illegal scrummaging caused a neck injury to his prop Ox Nche.

He ends the video by saying it is “no problem” if World Rugby decides he should not now be involved in the rest of the series, or should not continue as a water-carrier.

“If you think this was going over the top, and this shouldn’t be going out to the media, then I did this in my personal capacity, and not as part of the Springboks, and I will withdraw myself from the Springbok management team,” he said.

Bizarrely, Erasmus also complains about the way the appointment of South African Marius Jonker as Television Match Official for the series was greeted by the Lions, indicating that he thinks directing focus onto match officials is out of order.

“The way the pressure was put on Marius Jonker in the week by Warren Gatland was uncalled for,” Erasmus added in the video. “We feel we got no joy from anything because we were quiet last week and they were all over the media. We feel we got no positive results on the field.”

The New Zealander Ben O’Keeffe will referee Saturday’s second Test, with Berry and the Frenchman Mathieu Raynal as his assistants, and Jonker again the TMO.

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About David Barnes 3909 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. He’s only taking what Gatland started a bit further into the gutter.

    A pity neither coach has much class.

  2. being serious, if Erasmus is OK, this is a dark day for rugby if this goes unsanctioned. I am not against coaches calling out some of the worst decisions but much is made up nonsense.
    But I fear that this rant does not stand in isolation, and he is not the coach, otherwise he would not be the team water boy. The national union director of rugby acting as water boy (sometimes even remembering to carry ONE bottle, sometimes not) is not normal behaviour. Nor is having a fake twitter id to re-tweet his rants. Nor this video. I genuinely hope he is ok

    • Agreed it seems quite erratic overall behaviour between this, Twitter, and “Waterboy” stuff, which in all honesty I’m surprised is even within the laws of the game. He may seal the law change at the least.

      I do think the Lions got a couple of breaks as it relates to potential tries by the Boks, but I watched back the first half this morning and at least one of the first half penalties for the Boks were the wrong call (Daly penalised for not releasing when he and Hogg held up the player in the tackle looked tough to me, for example.)

  3. new edinburgh manageer has just signed 3 foreign players as his first signing that is 3 places less for scottish players thought the professional sides was to promote scottish players to play for the scottish team.

    • do you seriously believe Blair just signed them up this week? Not that competition for places is a problem, but come on, contracts are signed many months before announced.

    • He looks like a Bond villain, masquerading as a kids’ Sunday League Coach, finally breaking character to demand £1 Million Dollars from a bewildered United Nations.

      Can’t wait to see Bill Beaumont’s response.

  4. Crikey, he’s got a real bee under his bonnet. Kind of expect these concerns have already been raised in private as the Lions got the rub of the green on some important decisions. But if you were the players and see someone sticking up for you in public and possibly also taking some of the potential heat off the team, you might just welcome his interventions and get on with focussing on Saturday.
    Roll on Saturday.

  5. I thought Eramsus had more class than this. I’ve watched the video, and its an hour long, which is a good analysis of his agenda for this communication. Nothing else.

    Yes there were bad patches for the officials. But that is on both sides of that fence. The Saffer’s were infringing all over the field.

    Is this what rugby is going to be come? A moan-fest for a supposed “Director of Ruby”? Please! At least Gats has the courage to do his talking in press conferences. Not some contrived “personal” video where he is wearing Boks gear…

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