SARU mum on Rassie as letters fly around the world
REACTION: Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi did his most eloquent tap-dance to suggest it won’t be a distraction, but the Rassie Erasmus-saga is not going to go away quietly.
While the South African Rugby Union has remained mum, despite several attempts by @rugby365com to get a reaction, messages have been flying around the world demanding ‘explanations’.
Erasmus was slapped with a two-match ban this past Thursday, after a firestorm erupted over the 2019 World Cup-winning coach’s social media activity.
Unlike his blunt criticism in an hour-long video during the British and Irish Lions tour last year – which earned him a nearly year-long ban – Erasmus has been satiric in his tweets (accompanied by videos) of the performance of English referee Wayne Barnes in the 26-30 loss to France in Marseille last week.
Reports in the South African media suggested that there is ‘not enough time’ for Erasmus to launch an appeal.
However, the Afrikaans website Netwerk24 reported that Erasmus had sent a letter with a number of ‘questions’ to World Rugby asking for an ‘explanation’ – a fact confirmed to @rugby365com by an independent source.
A spokesman for @WorldRugby responded with a frank “no comment”, adding the rider that “it is usual to seek clarification on the scope” of the ban.
At the same time, the London-based Guardian reported that England’s Rugby Football Union lodged a complaint with SARU over Erasmus’ social media posts.
According to the British newspaper, the RFU wrote an ‘angry letter’ to SARU, outlining how Barnes – who was taking charge of his 100th Test last Saturday in France’s narrow win over South Africa – has received online threats while his family has also been targeted.
Erasmus, on his Twitter account, touched on the threats.
“Like myself, the referee of the French Test [Barnes] and his family have received threats and abuse,” Erasmus said.
“Apparently it’s partly due to my tweets, which is totally unfounded.
“Tweets were not aimed at the officials, but to our South African fans on what we should do better.”
Erasmus concluded the tweet with a directive to his followers and other users: “Have a go at me, not the ref!!”
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Like myself the referee of the French test & his family have received threats & abuse. Apparently it’s partly due to my tweets which is totally unfounded.Tweets were not aimed at the officials,but to our 🇿🇦fans on what we should do better. Have a go at me not the ref!! Tweets👇🏿 pic.twitter.com/XYnrtjl091
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) November 17, 2022
The two-match ban means South Africa’s Director of Rugby will miss the Springboks’ clash with Italy in Genoa on Saturday and their encounter with England at Twickenham next week.
However, there appear to be growing calls for his SARU to take further action.
He had only recently returned from a 12-month ban from match-day activities for his hour-long video and forensic criticism of the Australian referee Nic Berry during the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 2021.
“The RFU is understood to be concerned by the mental toll Erasmus’ comments can have on officials,” The Guardian reported.
According to the report the RFU wants Erasmus to delete his posts, which still appear on the Bok boss’ timeline.
Source: The Guardian & Netwerk24