World Rugby confirms Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby to face hearing over refereeing video

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Rassie Erasmus.
Rassie Erasmus.

World Rugby says director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby will face an independent misconduct hearing concerning comments made about the performance of officials during the British & Irish Lions Test series.

According to the World Rugby website, the organisation has raised its concern that both teams have commented on the selection and performance of certain match officials.

Erasmus, however, produced a 62-minute video after the first Test in which he pointed out numerous errors made by Nic Berry, the Australian referee in charge of the match. 

"South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby will face an independent misconduct hearing for comments regarding match official performance during the test series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions," the statement on the World Rugby website read.

"Match officials are the backbone of the sport, and without them there is no game. World Rugby condemns any public criticism of their selection, performance or integrity which undermines their role, the well-established and trust-based coach-officials feedback process, and more importantly, the values that are at the heart of the sport.

Having conducted a full review of all the available information, World Rugby is concerned that individuals from both teams have commented on the selection and/or performance of match officials.

However, the extensive and direct nature of the comments made by Rassie Erasmus within a video address, in particular, meets the threshold to be considered a breach of World Rugby Regulation 18 (Misconduct and Code of Conduct) and will now be considered by an independent disciplinary panel. 

World Rugby has reminded the management of both teams of the importance of this area and their obligations regarding the values of the sport. In order to protect the integrity of the sport and its values, World Rugby will also undertake a review of its Code of Conduct relating to incidents of this nature with a view to strengthening scope, rules and sanctions.

As with any test series, South Africa versus the British and Irish Lions is a showcase of rugby that generates great excitement and interest, even more so at this challenging time for sport and society. It is an opportunity for both teams and their management to set a positive example and concentrate on the spectacle and a wonderful example of rugby and its values at their best," the statement concluded.

World Rugby said that the date and time of the hearing will be communicated as soon as possible. 

SA Rugby released a statement of its own saying that it "noted the charges brought by World Rugby and will respond through the designated channels."

The organisation noted that there would be no further comment until the hearing process was complete.

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