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South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has been banned from all rugby activity for two months after six charges of misconduct against him were upheld.
The charges were brought by World Rugby in response to Erasmus’ behaviour towards match officials during the Springboks’ 2-1 series victory over the British and Irish Lions in the summer.
Erasmus is also suspended from all match-day activities, including coaching and media engagement, until September 30, 2022.
➡️ Joint statement from SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus: https://t.co/rmnVnVGwCH
— Springboks (@Springboks) November 17, 2021
It means the mastermind of South Africa’s 2019 World Cup triumph will play no part in Saturday’s clash with England at Twickenham.
Erasmus and SA Rugby, who also faced two charges, have confirmed in a statement that they will appeal against the decisions.
Erasmus used social media to highlight refereeing inconsistencies, starting with the Lions’ defeat to South Africa ‘A’, and after the first Test released an hour-long video critiquing the performance of the officials.
The charges upheld by an independent misconduct committee included attacking, disparaging and/or denigrating the game and match officials and not accepting the authority of match officials.
The first charge said that Erasmus threatened a match official that unless a requested meeting took place, he would publish footage containing clips criticising the match official’s performance and then made good on that threat.
Erasmus has also been given warning as to his future conduct and must apologise to the relevant match officials.
SA Rugby was charged with allowing Erasmus to commit acts of misconduct and for permitting captain Siya Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick to make comments at a press conference on July 30 that were not “disciplined or sporting and adversely affected the game of rugby”.
Both counts were upheld by the independent misconduct committee, who fined the union £20,000, issued a warning over future conduct and ordered an apology be made to the relevant match officials.
In the 80-page written judgement accompanying the outcome, the committee highlighted the human cost of the episode to Nic Berry, the referee who was Erasmus’ main target.
The committee said it was impressed by Berry’s “quiet dignity, humility, and the restraint he showed during his evidence” and acknowledged the “profound effect” the episode had on him.
“Needless to say, the whole situation has been an extremely difficult time for my family and I,” Berry said.
“The public attack on my integrity and character is not something that should be tolerated in any workplace.
“I feel that Mr Erasmus engaged in a character assassination of me on social media. I have spent many years trying to build my reputation as an international referee and in the course of his video which was posted online, Mr Erasmus has caused it immeasurable damage.
“My reputation throughout the rugby community has suffered immeasurably. His actions are against everything our game stands for and I feel it’s important to take a stand against such behaviour.”