SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: World Rugby must show Rassie Erasmus who is boss because enough is enough… his hour-long video was a character assassination and he should stay in the stands with other coaches rather than disguise as a humble water boy
- World Rugby are allowing a shocking precedent to be set by Rassie Erasmus
- His character assassination of Nic Berry put referee Ben O’Keeffe on notice
- He should not be allowed run on to the pitch disguised as a humble water boy
At the risk of repeating myself, South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus – the man who is de facto running the Springboks team – should not be allowed to prowl the touchlines and run on to the pitch disguised as a humble water boy.
Two days before the second Test, he put out an hour-long video criticising last week’s referee Nic Berry and his decisions – most of which I thought Berry got right, by the way.
It was a character assassination and also put Saturday’s referee Ben O’Keeffe on notice, as well as next week’s official Mathieu Raynal.
South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus was back on the pitch during the second Test
Forty-eight hours later there he is, within touching distance of poor Berry – who doesn’t get the right of public reply – and Raynal, who will possibly be next in the firing line.
And there he was again running on to the field at frequent intervals, especially when the officials had to clear their minds and make big decisions on a couple of possible red cards.
This should never be allowed. It is not part of rugby, and Erasmus knows it because in his video he pointedly invited World Rugby to ban him.
His comments were intended to have a disruptive and intimidating effect ahead of the Test and in his mind his job was done. This was the perfect opportunity for World Rugby, the ‘non-governing’ body, to demonstrate who runs the game. They are allowing a shocking precedent to be set.
The Springbok director of rugby released an hour-long rant on the officiating in the first match
The correct ruling would be to insist Erasmus stays in the stands along with other directors of rugby and coaches. Water boys are allowed on to the pitch and they can be mic’d up to coaches and directors of rugby.
But they do have to be water boys. Even if World Rugby decide it is OK, let’s do it properly. Let’s put the head coach and his team in a technical area.
Rugby looks down on football but when was the last time one of the top managers released a video slamming an official two days ahead of a big game.
As a coach or the man in charge, there will be many times when you feel disgruntled but there are proper channels to follow. Just once I used the media to highlight a grievance and that was after the Boks game in 2002 — and a full year before we met again — after the violence they inflicted on my England team at Twickenham.
Cheslin Kolbe was fortunate to stay on the pitch after taking out Conor Murray in the air
Deep down, I don’t have much trouble with Erasmus expressing strong views in a reasonable way at the appropriate time on any of the modern-day platforms.
I don’t agree with much of what he said on this occasion — there would have been more validity in his plea for consistency if he also highlighted some of the Bok misdemeanours, and the timing and direct attack on Berry was pretty transparent. It was all too personal.
What I do expect is for World Rugby to be strong on coaches and directors of rugby swarming all over the pitch — and to act now.
There is no part of the rugby universe in which this is OK. It is time some common sense kicked in.
Erasmus was running on to the field when the officials had to make big decisions