Marco Masotti ’prepared to do whatever it takes’ to help Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby fight World Rugby
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DURBAN - What began as a playful tweet by New York lawyer and rugby investor Marco Masotti has escalated into a declaration of intent to challenge World Rugby and their disciplinary action against SA Rugby Director Rassie Erasmus.
The Durban-raised Masotti says change is coming in the sport of rugby and it can take place “by force or by cooperation and engagement with professional investors.”
Masotti heads an American based consortium that holds a controlling share in The Sharks and he is concerned about off-field developments during the Springboks-Lions series, notably around Erasmus’ extraordinary video in which he detailed alleged errors, inconsistencies and a lack of respect towards Bok captain Siya Kolisi during the first Test, won 22-17 by the Lions.
When World Rugby announced that they have charged both Erasmus and his employers, SA Rugby, with misconduct — a date has yet to be set for his hearing — Masotti tweeted that he had a team of New York lawyers that would “take care of Rassie” and “put World Rugby on trial”.
I have a team of New York lawyers ready to take care of Rassie and SA Rugby. Let us put World Rugby on trial . . . https://t.co/QF5tKc2ay1— Marco Masotti (@MarcoMasotti_) August 3, 2021
While he says this was tweet was made light-heartedly, he is no longer playing games and is willing to offer the full legal clout at his disposal to Erasmus and SA Rugby.
“I am a businessman and I have invested money in the future of the sport of rugby. I am excited about the opportunity that rugby offers as a world sport. As a result, I have the expectation that it will be managed and officiated in a professional manner,” Masotti told Independent Media.
“The joke in my tweet was about the laughable treatment of Rassie Erasmus by World Rugby. Rassie is leading the thinking for the growth of the game in the new professional era. He is holding the torch for players who are sacrificing themselves and relying on the growth of the professional business over a short career,” Masotti said.
“However, the officials and refereeing organised by World Rugby appears to be holding back the next chapter of the professional era,” Masotti feels.
“Off the field, Rassie has experienced the same unacceptable treatment as Siya experienced on it and in my view, he had little choice (but to make his video).
“With my tweet, I wanted to convey that I am prepared to strongly defend the thinking that Rassie represents. I am now prepared to do whatever it takes.
“There needs to be a professional process for the officials and referees that is credible and transparent,” Masotti continued. “As in all sports, mistakes will be made but the process needs to be substantially improved and benchmarked to other sporting codes.”
Masotti concludes with a heavyweight punch: “Importantly, commercialism and professionalism must drive the decision making. Change is coming and it can take place by force or by cooperation and engagement with professional investors.”