Autumn Nations Series: England happy with process clarifying refereeing decisions

Matt Proudfoot England forwards coach 2021 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Matt Proudfoot England forwards coach 2021 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

England have expressed their satisfaction with the avenues available for clearing refereeing decisions ahead of their upcoming Test against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

This, after the Springboks’ director of rugby Rassie Erasmus was disallowed from having matchday involvement for the second successive year following his criticism of match officials.

Erasmus received a two-game suspension after he posted several tweets in which he attacked referees in a sarcastic manner.

Social media abuse

Those tweets have had an adverse effect in some quarters with referee Wayne Barnes, who refereed the France v South Africa clash, receiving abuse on social media.

World Rugby subsequently suspended Erasmus from the Springboks‘ final Autumn Nations Series Tests against Italy and England.

Erasmus only recently completed a one-year ban after he criticised match officials in an hour-long video during the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

Former Boks skipper John Smit rebuked the Springboks boss by saying: “It’s hard to defend him. It’s made us, as a rugby team, so easy to dislike.”

Meanwhile, England forwards coach Matt Proudfoot, who served in an identical role under Erasmus during South Africa’s victorious 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan, feels there is a responsibility which comes with the job when you’re working for South Africa’s national rugby team.

“The Springboks brand is a brand designed to bring hope to the country,” Proudfoot said.

“As South African custodians, the role is to preserve the brand of the Springboks in a country where rugby is as feverish as it is.

“When I lived in South Africa I was a proud South Africa supporter and I think that’s what the brand of the Springbok means. And that’s what it should be.”

Proudfoot said the England camp are happy with the level of contact they had with World Rugby’s head of match officials Joel Jutge.

“World Rugby has been great in the way it has communicated to us. We’ve got a process that we follow. It’s really constructive,” he added.

“We have a very clear line of communication to Joel Jutge. I sent him clips after the game on Sunday night and he replied to me first thing on Monday morning.

“There’s a clear line of communication if you want to deal with something that you want clarification on, particularly in a week that you can give it to your players and train it.

“It’s productive for us because we get the right information and we can utilise that information.

“For us it’s about affecting decisions on the field by exhibiting the right behaviours. There are a lot of interpretations of the laws, so we’d rather get the right interpretation from World Rugby. That’s why we follow the process.”

Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber will take charge of the three-time world champions on matchday at Twickenham – a position that he has grown accustomed to due to Erasmus’ suspensions.

Boks flexible enough

“I know how that team functions and they are flexible enough. They’ve been through it before and they handled it well,” Proudfoot said.

“Jacques is a smooth operator, a very intelligent man and works incredibly hard. He’s a highly competent coach who has done it at the highest level for a very long time. He deserves respect.”

READ MORE: John Smit: Rassie Erasmus has not approached referee criticism correctly

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