British & Irish Lions

Possible Test forfeiture, fines ... the World Rugby sanctions facing Rassie and SA Rugby

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Rassie Erasmus. (Ashley Vlotman/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Rassie Erasmus. (Ashley Vlotman/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
  • World Rugby sanctions facing Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby, if found guilty, range from possible reprimands, fines and even forfeiture of a match at the extreme end.
  • Erasmus recorded a 62-minute video that leaked to social media after the Lions' 22-17 first Test win in which he pointed out numerous errors made by referee Nic Berry.
  • Also on the harsh end, possible sanctions include cancellation of a result, replaying of a match and SA Rugby losing rights to apply for future major tournaments.

While this weekend's third British & Irish Lions series-deciding Test is not under threat, World Rugby sanctions facing Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby range from possible reprimands, fines and even forfeiture of a match at the extreme end.

World Rugby confirmed on Monday that Erasmus and SA Rugby would face an independent misconduct hearing regarding comments made about the performance of officials during the first Lions Test in Cape Town.

OPINION | How Rassie Erasmus threw himself to the wolves to give Boks a shot

Erasmus recorded a 62-minute video that leaked to social media after the Lions' 22-17 win in which he pointed out numerous errors made by Nic Berry, the Australian referee in charge of the match and South African TMO Marius Jonker. 

SA Rugby later responded in a brief statement saying it "noted the charges brought by World Rugby and will respond through the designated channels".

Although the World Rugby law-book (under Regulation 19) is broad on the subject of misconduct, behaviour and bringing the game into disrepute, some of its harshest laws could concern both SA Rugby's director of rugby and the organisation he serves.

Should either or both be found guilty, Erasmus could lose his position at World Rugby's High-Performance 15s committee while SA Rugby could lose their rights to apply for future major tournaments, which include future Rugby World Cup tournaments.

Also on the extreme end, possible sanctions include cancellation of a result, the replaying of a match, as well as possible deduction or cancellation of points or suspension from tournaments.

World Rugby's Regulation 19 and sanctions

Regulation 19.1.2:

A Rugby Body, Club or Person that contravenes these Regulations, brings World Rugby or the Game into disrepute, engages in conduct, behaviour or practices which may be prejudicial to the interests of World Rugby or the Game, wrongly discloses any confidential information obtained through connection with the Game, or which breaches the Code of Conduct shall be subject to sanction by the Union or Association having jurisdiction in respect thereof in accordance with the bye-laws, regulations, code of conduct or other undertakings or agreements of that Union or Association. 

Possible World Rugby sanctions (19.4):

  1. a caution, warning as to future conduct, reprimand and/or a fine;a suspension for a specified number of Matches and/or a specified period; a requirement that a Match or Matches be played with the exclusion of the public; the cancellation of a Match result and, where appropriate, the replaying of a Match; the forfeiture of a Match or matches and/or tie(s); the deduction or cancellation of points; the immediate or future expulsion or suspension from a tournament(s) or competition(s); or any such similar sanctions;
  2. cancellation or refusal of the registration of any Person registered in contravention of the Regulations;
  3. a recommendation to the Council that a Union or Association be expelled or suspended from Membership of World Rugby. Subject to the provisions of Bye-Law 6(f), only the Council shall be competent to expel or suspend a Union or Association and any such expulsion or suspension shall only have effect if approved by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast at a properly convened and quorate Council meeting;
  4. an order that any Union, Association, Rugby Body, Club or Person pay compensation and/or restitution;
  5. the withdrawal of other benefits or membership of World Rugby, including, but not limited to, the right to apply to host International Tournaments; and
  6. any combination of the penalties set out above. 

In 2011, then-Stade Francais director of rugby Michael Cheika was fined £17 500 for verbally abusing officials during and after the European Challenge Cup final defeat to Harlequins.

In 2007, England head coach Eddie Jones got a A$10 000 fine from Sanzaar for criticising referee Matt Goddard during his time with the Queensland Reds.

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