World Rugby has reportedly conceded that Rassie Erasmus was justified in the claims he made during a 62-minute video criticising referees during the 2021 British & Irish Lions series.
World Rugby formally charged Erasmus and SA Rugby after the director of rugby produced a video that highlighted a host of officiating discrepancies in the first Test of the series which was handled by Australian referee Nic Berry.
But while Erasmus and SA Rugby are set to appear before an independent disciplinary committee for bringing the game into disrepute, Rapport has revealed that, behind the scenes, World Rugby believes Erasmus was right on 23 of the 26 errors highlighted in the video.
Erasmus has denied responsibility after he was accused of leaking the video into the public domain, but in another twist it now appears that the clip was first leaked and viewed in Australia before it went viral on social media.
Erasmus maintains he only sent the video to Berry, SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux, the Springbok coaching staff and players, and World Rugby referee bosses Joel Jutge and Joe Schmidt.
There is a suspicion that the video was uploaded on social media from Australia after it was sent to Berry, but there is no evidence to support the theory.
Former international referee Nigel Owens has previously pointed out that it is nothing new for coaches to give feedback to referees through videos. In his career, he has received one such video in which 48 incidents in a match were pointed out.
The misconduct hearing will take place over the weekend of 30-31 October, when World Rugby has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Erasmus leaked the video if it wants to successfully prosecute him.
While it was initially reported that the result of the three-Test series – which the Springboks won 2-1 – could have been overturned as a possible punishment if Erasmus and SA Rugby were found guilty, this possibility has since been ruled out. The outcome of the series will remain unchanged regardless of the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.
It is understood that the worst that can happen is that Erasmus and SA Rugby can be fined and held liable for the disciplinary case’s costs, which will be in euros.