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My reputation as a referee and person will forever be tarnished, says Nic Berry after Rassie Erasmus video

Australian referee Nick Berry officiates the first tour match between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions. Photo: Luigi Bennett/EPA

Australian referee Nick Berry officiates the first tour match between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions. Photo: Luigi Bennett/EPA

Published Nov 18, 2021

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ONE of World Rugby’s compelling reasons for finding Rassie Erasmus guilty of misconduct was the testimony of the Australia referee at the heart of it all, Nic Berry, who says he and his family were traumatised by the video made by the SA director of rugby.

Berry, a former scrumhalf for the Queensland Reds, refereed the first Test between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions on July 24 and found himself the centre of an Erasmus video production which highlighted a litany of alleged transgressions against the South Africans.

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A wounded Berry told World Rugby that his integrity and character had been publicly attacked by Erasmus and “this cannot be tolerated”.

Berry, who took up refereeing when a series of concussions forced his retirement as a player, said that what should have been the highlight of his career (refereeing in a Lions series) had been ruined by Erasmus and that even if he was exonerated in the World Rugby hearing of any wrongdoing in that series, he would forever be associated with a “negative episode.”

Erasmus was found guilty and suspended from all rugby for two months and banned from any stadium activity on match days until September 2022.

Nic Berry statement:

"Needless to say, the whole situation has been an extremely difficult time for my family and I. As a match official, I understand that our performances will be heavily scrutinised, especially in such a prestigious tournament.

"However, the public attack on my integrity and character is not something that should be tolerated in any workplace.

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"I considered officiating in a Lions tour comparable with that in a World Cup. The appointment is an honour which few achieve. However, due to the actions of Mr Erasmus, my family and I have endured a significant amount of distress and we will only have negative memories of the whole experience. I feel that Mr Erasmus engaged in a character assassination of me on social media.

"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.

"Though a small proportion of the rugby community will follow the outcome of this matter, and in the process obtain an accurate account of what really occurred, the wider rugby community will only be aware of me in the context of this incident.

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"I feel that regardless of the outcome and any sanctions imposed, my reputation as a referee and person will forever be tarnished. Throughout Mr Erasmus' video he makes unsubstantiated claims about the incidents that occurred in the 72hrs after the first Test match which I refereed.

"Throughout this whole ordeal, I've maintained my professionalism despite being the target of an unprecedented personal attack played out in the media. The evidence attached is an accurate and detailed account of what really happened and should assist World Rugby in their judicial hearing into the matter.

"I felt that Mr Erasmus' video brought into question my professionalism and my integrity as a match official and that there was an inference to be drawn that I was in some way cheating as an official, which is obviously completely untrue.

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"My reputation throughout the rugby community has suffered immeasurably from his actions and I acknowledge that the impending investigation will likely lead to more public scrutiny and unwanted media attention.

"However, his actions are against everything our game stands for and I feel it's important to take a stand against such behaviour.”

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