Rassie Erasmus has offered to step back from South Africa’s series against the British and Irish Lions in an hour-long video that intensifies his online campaign against Warren Gatland’s tourists.
Erasmus addressed the camera directly for 62 minutes, raising a number of concerns over the officiating of referee Nic Berry in the Springboks’ 22-17 defeat in last Saturday’s first Test at Cape Town Stadium.
South Africa’s director of rugby also defended his role as a water carrier and accuses Berry of treating home captain Siya Kolisi differently to Alun Wyn Jones, the tourists’ skipper.
“There was a vast difference between who he was taking serious and who he wasn’t taking serious,” Erasmus said.
The mastermind of the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup triumph revealed that the video has been produced without the knowledge of his union.
“If you guys request that I’m not involved further with these Test matches, no problem. If you request I’m not a water carrier, no problem,” Erasmus said.
“If you think this was going over the top and this shouldn’t go out to the media, then I did this in my personal capacity, not as part of the Springboks. And I’ll withdraw myself from the Springbok management team.”
Erasmus believes the Lions gained an advantage ahead of the series opener by using the traditional media to highlight an illegal tackle by Faf de Klerk in the South Africa ‘A’ game and criticise the appointment of Marius Jonker as TMO.
Jonker, a South African, is in place for all three Tests after New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill was forced to pull out because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
“We feel we got no joy from anything because we were quiet last week and they were all over the media,” said Erasmus, who has repeatedly attacked the Lions on Twitter.
“I am not sure where this video is going and I am not sure where I am after this or what will be the repercussions after this.
“In some of the clips I might have sounded sarcastic and I apologise for that, I guess some of the frustration is just I don’t understand at this level we are waiting 12 years to play a match like this.
“We just said let’s not moan in the media and here we are on a Tuesday morning with an hour of 26 clips because Nic was not available, and they only do their review on a Monday and we have got one training session after today and we haven’t had any feedback. It is a negative place to be at. I think we can do it much better.”
The video appears to be addressed to World Rugby’s head of referees Joel Jutge and the officials from the first Test. The sport’s global governing body has been contacted for a response.
Erasmus is disappointed about the length of time it took to receive feedback from the officials in the wake of the game and also takes a swipe at Berry’s performance.
“We definitely felt that the way things unfolded on the field, didn’t benefit us by staying quiet,” said Erasmus, who is dressed in a Springboks training jersey and cap.
“In my position as director of rugby, if this means I step away from being water carrier, that is fine.
“If this means I get a fine I will step away from the management team. If this means the Springboks will be in trouble I will say I did this in isolation.
“It is me personally that did this because I believe in fairness. I believe two teams must have equal chance of competing in a match.
“I am not saying referee was a cheat at all. I am saying we just wanted clarity on a Sunday night and we have now got on a Tuesday.
“I am not very convinced with the clarity with what we got from Nic Berry in this match.”