SA Rugby and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus are preparing for a pending legal battle with World Rugby that could see South Africa stripped of their series victory against the British & Irish Lions in a worst-case scenario.
Both Erasmus and his employers have formally received the list of charges brought against them by World Rugby and which they will face at an independent misconduct hearing following the director of rugby producing a video in which he criticised match officials during the Lions series.
During the 62-minute video, Erasmus highlighted a host of officiating discrepancies in the first Test of the recent series against the Lions, including instances where he felt officials showed the South Africans a lack of respect.
It is believed that the independent disciplinary hearing is not expected to take place for another fortnight, but the four home nations from the United Kingdom (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) as well as Australia are exerting pressure on World Rugby to make an example of Erasmus with a lengthy suspension from the game.
According to Rapport, a severe punishment could even see a sanction that includes cancelling the result of the second Test in the series, which would then strip South Africa of their series win.
In fact, according to World Rugby regulations, the result of the second Test could even be completely overturned in favour of the Lions, giving them a series victory.
In addition, SA Rugby is also at risk of being punished financially, with World Rugby contemplating withholding its monetary support for a set period of time.
According to a report in Afrikaans publication Rapport, SA Rugby and Erasmus have decided to use separate legal representation in their defence due to technical reasons.
Erasmus will be represented by his long-time friend and legal aide Frikkie Erasmus, who confirmed to Rapport the charges brought against his client were “broad” and “comprehensive”.
Erasmus was not in attendance at the Boks’ Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, having opted against traveling with the team to the Eastern Cape in order to spend time with his family.
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