Rassie Erasmus is in the dog box and no-one else in ‘cite’
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DURBAN - Next week, Rassie Erasmus will answer World Rugby’s charges against him for bringing the game into disrepute but I wonder if the right party will be in the dock.
I understand that with SA Rugby being affiliated to World Rugby there are rules that must be adhered to prevent anarchy, and technically Erasmus has contravened because he dared to break the 11th Commandment, which is Thou Shalt Not Criticise the Referees in Public.
World Rugby is furious because Erasmus has not followed the usual channels open to disaffected rugby teams when they want clarification on issues.
But what if those channels are well-worn ruts on the road to nowhere...?
Rugby coaches have been sending video clips to World Rugby since before they were the IRB, for heaven’s sake, and the fact that nothing ever gets done is timeously illustrated by the complete lack of action taken by World Rugby’s appointed officials after one of the most ill-tempered Test matches for many a year.
So Rassie has been “cited” for misconduct but there is no case to answer for pressing a knee into the neck of a prone player; a certain wing has spear-tackled and tripped opponents but is free to play on Saturday; there have been armless shoulder charges from both sides; alleged bitings; illegal scrumming to the point of putting a prop out of rugby for some time; an aerial collision that could have had deadly repercussions was not cited, and these are just a few examples...
For a number of years now, dozens and dozens of cases similar to those listed above were automatically and heavily punished, but now there is nothing and it is this inconsistency that drives coaches to... take the law into their own hands.
It really is difficult to believe that after two bloodthirsty Test matches not one player from either squad has incurred a blot on their disciplinary record.
The maker of a video, though, will feel the wrath of World Rugby.
Going back to the 23 incidents that made up Rassie’s movie, what is worse —the litany of errors made by the officials or the fact that Erasmus exposed them? He made the public aware so that pressure can be put on World Rugby because if he had been a good boy and followed protocol, nothing would have changed.
SA Rugby has also been charged with misconduct because Rassie would have informed CEO Jurie Roux of his plans, and he would have been backed.
Rassie would have argued that taking steps to ensure fairness in the second Test was the right thing to do and would give the Boks a good chance of leveling the series. He would have contended that by thrusting himself into the spotlight he would take all of the heat off his players so that they could concentrate on winning.
And with the series now level at 1-1, can you imagine how the Bok players are going to respond in the third Test knowing that their boss has sacrificed himself on the World Rugby altar for their benefit?
The Boks are a close-knit family, we saw this in Chasing the Sun, and they will be incensed that one of their number has been wronged...