World Rugby has confirmed Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby will face an independent misconduct hearing for comments regarding match-official performance during the Test series between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions.
Following the opening Test between the teams, Erasmus took to social media, and then fronted up at a media conference, to explain some of the frustrations about officiating inconsistencies and World Rugby’s referee review process.
Last Thursday, an unprecedented video also came to light, with Erasmus sitting front and centre as he highlighted a host of officiating discrepancies in detail, including instances where he feels officials showed the South Africans a lack of respect.
World Rugby has now issued a statement:
“Match officials are the backbone of the sport, and without them there is no game. World Rugby condemns any public criticism of their selection, performance or integrity which undermines their role, the well-established and trust-based coach-officials feedback process and, more importantly, the values that are at the heart of the sport.
“Having conducted a full review of all the available information, World Rugby is concerned that individuals from both teams have commented on the selection and/or performance of match officials.
“However, the extensive and direct nature of the comments made by Rassie Erasmus within a video address, in particular, meets the threshold to be considered a breach of World Rugby Regulation 18 (Misconduct and Code of Conduct) and will now be considered by an independent disciplinary panel.
“World Rugby has reminded the management of both teams of the importance of this area and their obligations regarding the values of the sport. In order to protect the integrity of the sport and its values, World Rugby will also undertake a review of its Code of Conduct relating to incidents of this nature with a view to strengthening scope, rules and sanctions.
“As with any Test series, South Africa versus the British and Irish Lions is a showcase of rugby that generates great excitement and interest, even more so at this challenging time for sport and society. It is an opportunity for both teams and their management to set a positive example and concentrate on the spectacle and a wonderful example of rugby and its values at their best.”