Former skipper John Smit believes that Rassie Erasmus’ recent social media antics have created a negative connotation of the Springboks.
Erasmus, SA Rugby director of rugby, received a two-match stadium ban last week after highlighting questionable officiating in the losses against Ireland and France. This ban comes after Erasmus was forced to spend a year out of the matchday frame following his controversial video about Nic Berry’s refereeing in the first British and Irish Lions Test.
Smit, who guided the Boks to the 2007 World Cup, told the BBC’s Rugby Union Daily podcast that it is “difficult to defend” the World Cup-winning coach.
“The way he has approached this is not right,” said Smit. “Are you telling me Rassie is the only coach frustrated by a call that has gone the wrong way?
“Something has to be done. A line that has to be drawn, and he is making it difficult for his team. It’s made the Boks, as a rugby team, so easy to dislike”.
Smit also believes that the scrutiny referees cop from players is unacceptable, and that the game must return to only captains being able to talk to the ref.
“I honestly believe there should be a penalty for any player who thinks they can help the referee ref the game,” he said. “The referees have to get control back. Everyone seems to think they have an influence over what the referee should be doing. When I was captain, when anyone else spoke they were disrespecting me, and the referee.
“Refereeing rugby is incredibly difficult. What we want is consistency and respect, and I think when we start giving that back to the referee the pressure will be off them and we will have more consistent performances.
“I would like referees to get back in charge and not have to defend themselves the whole time.
“Obviously we would all like referees to have perfect games every weekend. But I think it starts with the players. We have this very masculine aggression in the men’s game, and if you watched the women’s World Cup final, you didn’t see any of that going on.
“Maybe it is time for everyone across the board to do a little ego check, reset the clock, and get back to what made rugby great, which is being respectful.”
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