EDITORIAL | Rassie was rash, but World Rugby is childish
Its over-the-top punishment of the Bok boss is typically defensive and means everyone loses
World Rugby’s imposition of stiff sanctions on SA Rugby director Rassie Erasmus has sparked furious debate. For Springbok supporters it is an emotive issue and comes in the same week that not one Springbok (or All Black) player made the cut for World Rugby’s annual awards. The timing of the announcement to ban Erasmus ahead of a crunch game against England has upped the controversy.
When the emotions are set aside, however, it becomes clear none of the sides in this sorry saga have covered themselves in glory.
At quick glance, the punishment does seem to be out of sync with the seriousness of the infringement. In short, Erasmus was found guilty of misconduct for releasing a 62-minute video criticising no fewer than 36 refereeing decisions in the first match between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions, which the Springboks lost 17-22. World Rugby took umbrage with the fact that Erasmus chose to do this in public instead of raising his concerns through established channels of communication. This is frowned upon in rugby's corridors of power. It also found Erasmus “threatened” the referee, Nic Berry, who, according to the World Rugby committee presiding over his misconduct hearing, was the victim of an “ad hominem attack, which lacked detached analysis or balance”. Erasmus’s sanction? A two-month ban from all rugby activities and a suspension from all match-day activities until the end of September 2022. SA Rugby was fined £20,000 (about R420,000). ..