Nick Mallett on Rassie ban: It's hard to argue World Rugby was incorrect

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SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says World Rugby was correct in banning Rassie Erasmus, but questioned the time it took to finish the investigation.

READ | World Rugby wanted Rassie banned until after 2023 World Cup - report

Erasmus, SA Rugby's director of rugby, was last week found guilty on all six charges brought against him by the global governing body after he compiled a 62-minute video in which he hit out at Australian referee Nic Berry's and TMO Marius Jonker's officiating during the Springboks' first Test loss to the British & Irish Lions in July.

The ban from World Rugby means Erasmus is suspended from all rugby related activities for two months. 

Following that, he may return to his director of rugby role but will still be required to serve a match-day ban until 30 September 2022.

Mallett was speaking in the SuperSport studio over the weekend where he was joined by former Springboks Schalk Burger and Gqobani Bobo.

"I think a couple of things. First of all, it took a tremendous amount of time before this came out and that's a real disappointment," Mallett said. "If a player gets sent off for a red card, it's done within a week. Obviously, they (World Rugby) were very concerned with what happened. They were very concerned about the defence that SA Rugby and Rassie were going to put up. They didn't want to slip up on this at all and they wanted to make sure they crossed their Ts and dotted their Is with regard to the report.

"It's taken ages, four months I think, before it has come out. They have come down very, very heavily on Rassie. If you look at what they were asked to adjudicate on, it's hard to argue that they were incorrect. Some of them: threatening a match official unless a requested meeting took place..."

Berry had accused Erasmus of "character assassination" in his submission to the World Rugby disciplinary committee.

"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," the Australian referee said.

Mallett added: "When you go through his tape, it's not a question of whether he was correct if Nic Berry had a poor game... I still believe Nic Berry did have a very poor game. That wasn't what they were allowed to adjudicate on. They had to adjudicate on whether Rassie broke World Rugby laws in terms of the way in which directors of rugby and coaches deal with decisions.

"In South Africa, we have slightly confused the issue. We've said that perhaps they should have looked and seen what the mistakes were that Nic Berry made and that should mitigate against what Rassie did. Unfortunately, when you are an affiliate of World Rugby, you have to obey World Rugby's laws.

"As a rugby player you can say 'I don't like the maul therefore I am going to collapse it' but you are always going to get penalised if you collapse the maul. You might not like the law, but you have to play by it. Rassie is a director of rugby and he has to abide by World Rugby laws and he was found that he didn't. He has been heavily sanctioned for that."

Burger agreed with Mallett that Erasmus was wrong in the manner in which he went about making the video, while Bobo called on World Rugby to hold referees more accountable for their errors.

Erasmus' ban will see him miss out on Wales' inbound tour to South Africa in July next year, as well as the Rugby Championship.

An 80-page report from a World Rugby independent misconduct committee unpacked the charges, testimonies and findings in a report last Wednesday.


SA Rugby was also fined £20 000 (around R418 000) and received a warning regarding future conduct.

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