Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos has leapt to the defence of referee Nic Berry after he was the subject of a leaked video in which Rassie Erasmus points out 24 errors the Australian made in the Springboks’ first Test defeat to the Lions.
For a full hour, the Springboks director of rugby dissects decisions which he feels impacted his team in their 22-17 loss to Warren Gatland’s men.
Going as far as to call on World Rugby and the officials set to take charge of the remaining Tests to give both teams ‘an equal chance’, Marinos has labelled Erasmus’ rant as ‘unacceptable’.
Global governing body World Rugby has sought an explanation from SA Rugby over Erasmus’ comments, with the Boks boss’ comments heaping pressure on officials for Saturday’s second Test.
“Match officials form the very fabric of our game – simply, the game would not exist without them,” said Marinos.
“As a highly-regarded and respected international referee appointed by World Rugby, the attack on Nic’s integrity, character and reputation is unacceptable.
“We have been in contact with World Rugby, under whose auspices this Test Series sit, and understand that they are actively reviewing this matter as some facts presented were not accurate.
“It is important to ensure public attacks of this nature are not tolerated. We will continue to provide support to Nic at this time, as both his physical and mental well-being remains a priority for us.”
Erasmus, who led the Springboks to the World Cup in 2019, pointed to Hamish Watson’s tip-tackle on Willie Le Roux that was deemed to not warrant a yellow card and a feel that captain Siya Kolisi was interacted differently to Lions counterpart Alun Wyn Jones.
In a farcical statement during the 62-minute long video, Erasmus said: “The Lions only comes around every 12 years and I think it should be fair that I’ll step away from these last two Test matches,” Erasmus said.
“But let the Springboks and the Lions have an equal chance on the field when it comes to laws, respect, the way players are treated, what is said in the coaches’ pre-match meeting with the referees, how they give feedback post-match and how things are said in the media.
“It’s comical the respect the [officials] showed towards the South African players compared to the Lions players.
“When Siya spoke to the referee and when Alun Wyn [Jones] spoke to the referee, I just felt the reactions on how they treated both those players, there was a vast difference between who he was taking serious and who he wasn’t taking serious.”
Erasmus also offered to stand down from the rest of the series in his address to World Rugby, claims the Lions dismissed as a ‘sideshow’.
In a brief statement released on Thursday, World Rugby said: “World Rugby notes the comments made by Rassie Erasmus. The nature of these will be raised with the union via the usual official channels and no further comment will be made at this stage,” a statement from the game’s global governing body read.”
A week after Warren Gatland made public his objection to having South African official Marius Jonker drafted in as TMO for the first Test, pressure has now been heaped on New Zealander Ben O’Keefe who takes charge of the second Test on Saturday.