Ref’s view: Rassie video ‘broke all boundaries’

Test referee Andrew Brace has opened up about the impact of Rassie Erasmus’ controversial video on match officials.

Erasmus was suspended from all rugby for two months in November and may not attend a rugby match at any level until 30 September next year after an independent committee deemed the video to have broken World Rugby’s code of conduct.

The video saw Erasmus point out errors made by Australian referee Nic Berry during the first Test between the Springboks and British & Irish Lions.

“That broke all boundaries,” Brace told Rugbypass in an interview.

“Poor Nic. What effect is that going to have on him in terms of not being allowed to ref in South Africa for the foreseeable?

“The video was bad enough, but it’s everything that came after that; the pressure that he and his family were put under. He had to stay out there for the following two Tests and, not only that, he had to go back to Australia and quarantine for two weeks before he could go home.

“All of that with that cloud hanging over him meant he was in a pretty dark place.”

Brace said that while it is common for referees to get feedback from teams about their performances, the Erasmus video was still out of the ordinary.

“That Rassie one was pretty long,” Brace said. “But’s it’s not far off what we’d normally get sent privately.

“South Africa as a team, particularly with Felix Jones coming on board, do very, very detailed reviews, and a lot of their stuff is valid for us in terms of learning. It’s not just about them chancing their arm; a lot of the stuff is so detailed it can really help us moving forward.

“You can say it was really smart because they ended up winning the series,” Brace added.

“But the integrity of the game has been damaged because of it.

“Hammer me behind closed doors if I wasn’t good enough but as soon as you put that video in the public domain, a lot of Rassie supporters will jump on the bandwagon and you’re going to get a hell of a lot more criticism coming your way.

“If you allow that, it’s open season. A lot of coaches have asked the question, ‘Can we all do this now?’ and if World Rugby don’t come down hard on it, then it becomes a free-for-all and we’d travel down a road of no return.”

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Dylan Jack