TOKYO – South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus is convinced that referees favour successful teams but is hoping the close competition among the main contenders at this Rugby World Cup will encourage a more balanced approach to officiating.
The All Blacks, who the Springboks meet in their Pool B opener in Yokohama on Saturday, were often alleged by fans and pundits to have received favourable treatment from match officials during a decade-long reign at the top of the world rankings.
Erasmus said he knew from personal experience that 50-50 decisions were likely to go your way if you came into a match with a reputation or on a lengthy winning streak.
“If you've been there like we were in 2009 when the Springboks were the number one team in the world and in 1998 when we were on that 17-test match roll, you get a lot of support from fans, opposition and also from referees,” he told reporters in Tokyo.
“There is certainly a time when you get that respect and even referees buy into that respect. Because you are playing so well, referees tend to almost find it tough to penalise you in 50-50 decisions.”