Cape Town – South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has a feeling that his two-month suspension from all rugby activity “will not be as bad as feared”, as he hinted on his Twitter page about going to Mauritius for a holiday.
On Wednesday, World Rugby gave their verdict on Erasmus’ hour-long video, in which he pointed out what he felt Australian referee Nic Berry got wrong in their first Test against the British & Irish Lions in July. Erasmus was found guilty of misconduct on all six charges brought by the governing body.
As a result, Erasmus has been suspended with immediate effect from all rugby activities for two months and suspended from all match-day activities (including coaching, contact with match officials, and media engagement) with immediate effect until 30 September 2022. The World Cup-winning coach has also been handed a warning as to his future conduct and ordered to make a public apology to the relevant match officials.
On the eve of the Boks’ blockbuster Test against Eddie Jones’ England, Erasmus shared a tweet showing him having a beer, captioned: “Sad not to be with the boys!! Captain’s Practice time now!! I do however get the feeling the 2 months will not be so bad as feared!!
Sad not to be with the boys !!Captain's Practice time now !! I do however get the feeling the 2 months will not be so bad as feared !!🇲🇺🇿🇦 pic.twitter.com/ft7K2VgrUa— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) November 19, 2021
On the same day, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend accused Erasmus of "character assassination" in the Test at Murrayfield, which the Boks won 30-15.
Townsend was referring to a clip from a SuperSport show during which former national consultant and Lions coach Swys de Bruin pointed out how Erasmus instructs fullback Willie le Roux to target a Scottish winger with high balls.
In the clip, De Bruin describes the act as a ‘classic’, while adding that he ‘loved the control and animation’ Erasmus showed.
Townsend, however, described Erasmus’ actions as ‘sledging’.
"I wasn't really aware of it at the time, but someone showed me a video of him making comments about one of our players, a character assassination or sledging or whatever," said Townsend.
"That's not the role of coaches; it’s not the role of anybody on the sidelines to be doing that.
"If we want our sport to go down a different route then we allow these things to happen. That was really disappointing to see, and I know it wasn’t the only incident over the weekend, over that game."
On World Rugby’s verdict, Townsend added: "We got to the decision that was announced yesterday, but for me this is the tip of the iceberg. It was four months too late," he said.
"We’ve seen a lot of incidents where people on the sidelines are trying to intimidate players and officials. Going onto the field of play as well to either coach their team or intimidate officials on the field. It’s got to stop.
"I would urge World Rugby to make further changes. Why do we need coaches on the sidelines? If they are on the sidelines they have to live up to certain behaviours and values that we pride in our game, which sadly I felt over the summer and since then have been lost. I think that was a real bad episode for our game.
On Erasmus' video, Townsend and World Rugby's decision, Townsend continued: "I was there at the time, so I experienced what was going on, and I later spoke to Nic Berry about it and he went through a real tough time, and so did his family. That was a real shame and a pity that these things can happen in our sport. I don't think it could have been allowed to continue.
"Those antics ... we can’t fall into that trap of winning at all costs and putting pressure on individuals.
"It has been a while for that decision to come. That would be my only frustration, that it has taken so long to come to this decision."