Beast 'proud' of Rassie for standing up to World Rugby in controversial ref video

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SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus during a virtual media conference on 28 September 2020.
SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus during a virtual media conference on 28 September 2020.
Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

While the rugby world awaits the verdict from World Rugby's hearing in the misconduct case against Rassie Erasmus, former Springbok Beast Mtawarira said he was "proud" of his ex-boss for standing up to authorities following shambolic officiating.

Erasmus' case was heard over the weekend, but the verdict of the hearing was yet to be released at the time of writing.

The SA Rugby director of rugby compiled a 62-minute video in which he hit out at Australian referee Nic Berry's officiating during the Springboks' first Test loss to the British & Irish Lions in July.

The video sent shockwaves across the globe, with many condemning Erasmus' actions and others, like Mtawarira, commending him for having the courage of his convictions.

READ | Morne Steyn turned nightmare end into dream sign-off: 'It would have been tough to end off like that'

However, Erasmus was charged by the sport's governing body and, if found guilty, his punishments could range from a fine to the Springboks possibly getting stripped of their series victory over the Lions.

Speaking to James Haskell and Alex Payne on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby podcast, the 117-Test capped Springbok was asked about the controversial video curated by his World Cup-winning former coach.

"That was a masterclass," said Mtawarira, letting out his unmistakable belly laugh.

"It was factual, and I think it influenced the series in a big way. I must say, I wasn't happy with the officiating in that first Test match.

"I understand the process of what happened after that, getting feedback from a referee in terms of scrums, if we get a few penalties we go ask, 'What did we do wrong?'

"For Nic Berry to take so long, it's got a big impact on selection. When you don't give feedback in good time saying why we penalised you, why you didn't get that 50-50 call, it hampers what you want to achieve.

"That's what was frustrating, so I understand it from Rassie's and Jacques Nienaber's point of view.

"They wanted to select a team that will play to those strengths and not give penalties at the wrong time."

Mtawarira said he couldn't help but enjoy the Erasmus compilation, in which he picked apart Berry's and television match official (TMO) Marius Jonker's decision-making in that fateful Cape Town Test.

The Boks went on to win the Lions series 2-1 thanks to a last-gasp Morne Steyn penalty in the deciding third Test.

"All those things, I really enjoyed. It was probably one of those videos I watched back-to-back a few times," Mtawarira said.

"I was proud of him for saying that. You're standing up against a big organisation like World Rugby.

"It can have a negative impact on you, but he took it up and personally called the officiating out, and in the end, it played a massive role, and the refs are paying more attention now.

"I was happy he did it."

Erasmus has travelled with the Springboks on their European end-year tour and will likely sit with head coach Nienaber in the booth unless otherwise sanctioned from doing so by World Rugby.

The Springboks face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday (19:30 SA time).




South Africa

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn

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