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.
“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.