England vs South Africa: Eddie Jones calls on Test coaches to respect referees amid Rassie Erasmus ban

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has urged Test coaches to protect referees in the wake of Rassie Erasmus’ latest suspension.

Rugby director Erasmus will be conspicuous by his absence at Twickenham on Saturday when his South Africa side square up to Jones’ England.

The former Springboks No8 will serve the second of a two-match ban from matchday activities following social media criticism of officials after South Africa’s defeat by France on November 12.

Erasmus was hit with a two-month ban by World Rugby for lengthy online videos criticising referees during the Lions’ 2021 tour to South Africa.

The 2019 World Cup-winning coach has engendered a siege mentality among the Springboks and supporters around his treatment, but referees have received vitriolic social media criticism. And England head coach Jones believes Test staff have a wider responsibility to the game to uphold.

“We have to respect the referees and look after the referees, they are an important part of our game,” said Jones. “I’ve got a blanket rule I don’t speak about referees, I try not to. And I don’t speak about coaches who speak about referees.

“To me it’s simple: there’s the game, play the game, the referee’s in charge, if he makes mistakes let’s accept it, because that’s our game.

“If we want to have a contest game, referees are going to make mistakes. If we don’t, let’s play basketball. Let’s call it basketball, let’s not have any contest. Or we play Aussie Rules, or football. Rugby is a contest game, so it’s simple for me.

“I’m not perfect. I’ve said things that probably haven’t been right, but the longer I’ve coached the more I accept we’ve got to look after the referees.”

England will bid to end their 2022 in results profit this weekend. Their record of won five, lost five and drawn one remains a major frustration.

Toppling the world champion Springboks will begin and end with a major physical clash, but boss Jones believes talisman lock Maro Itoje is edging back to his best.

“I think we are seeing the second coming of Maro,” said Jones. “He came out like a comet, but now he is going up again.

“At his best he is the best defensive player in the world and we want to see more of that.

“There was a certain basketballer who played for the USA in 2008, Kobe Bryant, and all his focus was on bgeing the best defensive player. Maro has that in him. He’s just a destructive defensive player and he creates attacking opportunities through that.”