During a SuperSport studio chat, Nick Mallett said that World Rugby was correct to hand Rassie Erasmus a ban, but lamented the length of time the independent committee took to come to a decision.
Mallett were joined in studio by former Springboks Schalk Burger and Gcobani Bobo and discussed the suspension handed down to Erasmus, which he started serving by missing the recent Test between the Springboks and England at Twickenham.
During the discussion, Mallett said he was disappointed that the whole process was not dealt with quicker, but added that ultimately the decision to suspend Erasmus was correct.
“I think a couple of things. First of all, it took a tremendous amount of time before this came out and that’s a real disappointment,” Mallett explained. “If a player gets sent off for a red card, it’s done within a week. Obviously, they [World Rugby] were very concerned with what happened. They were very concerned about the defence that SA Rugby and Rassie were going to put up. They didn’t want to slip up on this at all and they wanted to make sure they crossed their Ts and dotted their Is with regard to the report.
“It’s taken ages, four months I think, before it has come out. They have come down very, very heavily on Rassie. If you look at what they were asked to adjudicate on, it’s hard to argue that they were incorrect. Some of them: threatening a match official unless a requested meeting took place …
“When you go through his tape, it’s not a question of whether he was correct if Nic Berry had a poor game, which I still believe Nic Berry did have a very poor game. That wasn’t what they were allowed to adjudicate on. They had to adjudicate on whether Rassie broke World Rugby laws in terms of the way in which directors of rugby and coaches deal with decisions.
“In South Africa, we have slightly confused the issue. We’ve said that perhaps they should have looked and seen what the mistakes were that Nic Berry made and that should mitigate against what Rassie did. Unfortunately, when you are an affiliate of World Rugby, you have to obey World Rugby’s laws.
“As a rugby player you can say ‘I don’t like the maul therefore I am going to collapse it’ but you are always going to get penalised if you collapse the maul. You might not like the law, but you have to play by it. Rassie is a director of rugby and he has to abide by World Rugby laws and he was found that he didn’t. He has been heavily sanctioned for that.”
Burger agreed that Erasmus was wrong in the manner in which he went about making the 62-minute video critiquing Nic Berry that earned him the suspension, while Bobo argued that World Rugby was not blameless and there needs to be more accountability for referees in the future.
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