As the Boks jetted off to Queensland without Rassie Erasmus, the director of rugby encouraged the team to focus on the “main thing” in his absence. Here’s a timeline of how things have played out after his controversial video came to light.
This past Thursday, it was confirmed that Erasmus will stay in South Africa for at least the initial stages of the Rugby Championship fixtures in Australia as he awaits his fate at a World Rugby misconduct hearing.
World Rugby’s hearing of director of rugby Erasmus and SA Rugby also began this week, after they were formally charged following his producing a video in which he criticised match officials during the series against the British & Irish Lions.
During the video, Erasmus highlighted a host of officiating discrepancies in the first Test of the series, which was handled by Australian Nic Berry.
If found guilty, Erasmus’ punishments could range from a fine to even having the Springboks stripped of their series victory over the Lions.
The toll of the fallout from the video has now entered the spotlight as coach Jacques Nienaber stated that Erasmus would remain in South Africa in order to allow the team to focus on the competition at hand.
Commenting on a picture of the team on the plane to Australia, Erasmus said on social media: “All clear for the main thing”, referencing the mantra of allowing the “main thing to stay the main thing” that was so central to the team’s successful 2019 World Cup campaign.
Lekka!! All clear for the “main thing” https://t.co/ztpFF753Te
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) August 26, 2021
Timeline to recap unfolding of events:
Thursday, 22 July – World Rugby appoints Marius Jonker as TMO for the Test series after Brendon Pickerill is forced to withdraw because of Covid-19 disruption.
Friday, 23 July – One day before the first Test, reports emerge simultaneously in all major British & Irish news outlets that Gatland is ‘furious’ about Jonker’s appointment.
Saturday, 24 July – First Test. A number of controversial refereeing decisions and inconsistencies go against the Springboks. Siya Kolisi later admits he felt disrespected by referee Nic Berry.
Sunday, 25 July – Springbok management attempt to contact World Rugby and Nic Berry for clarity. WR doesn’t respond, while Erasmus later states that Nic Berry was “asleep” at the time he tried to get hold of him the Sunday after the first Test.
Monday, 26 July – The new training week starts for the Springboks but World Rugby has yet to provide any feedback from Saturday’s game.
Tuesday, 27 July – With only three on-field training sessions remaining before the second Test, World Rugby provides its feedback from the first Test. Erasmus makes the now infamous video in response to what he deemed to be insufficient clarity.
Thursday, 29 July – Erasmus’ video to World Rugby is leaked online.
Saturday, 31 July – Second Test. The Springboks bounce back with a convincing victory in an ill-spirited affair with plenty of off-the-ball incidents.
Monday, 2 August – World Rugby confirms that both Erasmus and SA Rugby will face a disciplinary hearing as a result of the leaked video.
Saturday, 7 August – Third Test. Springboks seal the series with a 19-16 victory in the final Test.
Tuesday, 24 August – Erasmus’ disciplinary hearing commences. His lawyers maintain that he did not leak the video.
Thursday, 26 August – Springboks release a media statement saying that Erasmus would not be travelling with the side to Australia for the Rugby Championship to allow the players to remain focused.