LONDON – South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus was suspended by World Rugby on Thursday following his criticism of refereeing decisions during the ongoing Autumn Nations Series.
Erasmus, now ruled out of this weekend’s Test against Italy in Genoa and next week’s match against England at Twickenham, has only just returned from a stadium ban following a World Rugby suspension for his infamous hour-long video criticising referee Nic Berry’s performance in the first Test between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions last year.
That did not stop Erasmus from publishing several videos on social media on Sunday and Monday that appeared to question decisions made by referee Wayne Barnes during the world champion Springboks’ 30-26 loss to France last Saturday.
He had made similar comments on social media following South Africa’s defeat by Ireland a week earlier.
Earlier on Thursday, Erasmus said accusations his videos had led to threats against experienced English referee Barnes, a veteran of over 100 Tests, were “completely unfounded”.
He argued his videos “were not aimed at the officials, but to our SA fans on what we should do better”.
World Rugby, however, took a different view, after reviewing Erasmus’s posts.
“World Rugby condemns any public criticism of match official selection, performance or integrity, which undermines their role, the trust-based coach/match officials feedback process and the values of integrity, respect, solidarity and discipline that are at the heart of the sport,” the global governing body said in a statement.
“The behaviour of coaching staff and match officials are widely observed by fans, media and participants at every level, and such behaviours affect how the values are applied across the game.”
The statement added: “Having considered the matter World Rugby has issued a two-match ban against Rassie Erasmus and accordingly he may not take part in any match-day activity in relation to the two upcoming Test matches that South Africa has against Italy on 19 November, 2022 and England on 26 November, 2022.
“The ban includes engagement with media and social media in relation to match officials.”