Rassie Erasmus apologises for attack on Aussie referee Nic Berry

Rassie Erasmus has backflipped on his decision to appeal the penalties he incurred for criticising Aussie referee Nic Berry.

South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has backflipped on his plan to challenge the ban incurred for his attack on Australian referee Nic Berry, instead choosing to bring the “highly stressful” saga to an end by apologising.

In July, Rugby Australia slammed Erasmus for publishing a video that criticised Berry’s refereeing during the British & Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa.

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In his 62-minute tirade, Erasmus said there was a “vast difference between who (Berry) was taking seriously and who he wasn’t taking seriously” in the first game of the three Test series.

“The way they listened to (South African captain Siya Kolisi) Siya compared to the way they listened to (Lions captain) Alun Wyn was definitely not with the same respect. It shows the difference in attitude towards the Springboks and the Lions,” Erasmus claimed.

World Rugby last week fined SA Rugby $A37,000, banned Erasmus for two months and suspended him from “all match-day activities” until September 30, 2022 after ruling he had “brought the game into disrepute”.

In a statement presented to World Rugby as part of its inquiry into the matter, Berry said Erasmus had “forever tarnished” his status within the game.

“I felt that Mr Erasmus engaged in a character assassination of me on social media,” Berry testified.

“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.”

Erasmus and SA Rugby had initially indicated they would appeal the sanctions but reneged on that decision on Friday (AEDT).

“SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus wish to apologise to the match officials appointed to the first Test of the Springboks’ series against the British & Irish Lions,” SA Rugby wrote in a statement.

“We also confirm that SA Rugby and Erasmus have advised World Rugby that they withdraw their notice of appeal and will not lodge an appeal against the sanctions imposed by the judicial committee.”

SA Rugby said it hoped the apology would put the matter to rest.

“This has been a highly stressful and charged environment with unusual pressures placed on all concerned and we have no wish to prolong that experience for anyone,” the statement read.

“We have drawn a line under the incident and only wish to look forward. We will respect the outcomes of the hearing, allowing our national teams and rugby operations to plan with clarity for the coming months.”

In a separate statement, World Rugby said it considered the matter finalised.

“World Rugby welcomes the public apology from SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus to the match officials involved in the first Test between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions this year and the matter is closed,” a spokesperson said.

Originally published as Rassie Erasmus apologises for attack on Aussie referee Nic Berry


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