Erasmus offers to 'step away' from Springboks as he takes aim at officials

By Sports Desk July 29, 2021

Rassie Erasmus has offered to "step away" from his role with South Africa for the remainder of the series against the British and Irish Lions in an extraordinary hour-long video.

Erasmus had accused the Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play via social media earlier this week following the 22-17 victory for Warren Gatland's side in the first Test at Cape Town Stadium.

He had also been active on social media 24 hours after Saturday's game, retweeting clips from a user highlighting "questionable calls" made during proceedings.

South Africa's director of rugby has now taken aim again at the officials ahead of the second Test, stating that the Springboks should have an "equal chance" in the remainder of the series as he revealed his readiness to move aside.

Erasmus said: "I have previous encounters where I've made mistakes, saying things in public about referees and that normally comes back to bite you.

"But in this instance, the Lions only comes around every 12 years. I think it should be fair that I'll step away from these last two Test matches, but let the Springboks and the Lions have an equal chance on the field when it comes to laws, respect and the way that players get treated."

He added: "If you think this is going over the top and it shouldn't go out to the media, then I did this in my personal capacity, not as part of the Springboks and I'll withdraw myself from the Springbok management team."

Erasmus felt that South Africa captain Siya Kolisi was not treated with the same level of respect as Lions counterpart Alun Wyn Jones in the opening Test.

He said: "When Siya spoke to the referee and when Alun Wyn spoke to the referee, I felt the reactions on how they treated both those players… there was a vast difference between who was taken seriously and who wasn't.

"It's comical, the way the respect the assistant referees and the refs is different between the Lions and South Africa. There was a vast difference between who he was taking serious and who he wasn't taking serious."

Erasmus acted as water carrier in the first Test but reiterated he is prepared to move out of the limelight.

"If this causes that I'm not allowed to be water carrier that's fine, I'll step away," he said. "If we're going to get a fine, I'll step away from the management team.

"If this means the Springboks will get in trouble, I'll say I did this personally, because I believe in fairness, the system and two teams having an equal chance of competing in a match.

"I'm not saying the referee was a cheat at all, saying we just wanted clarity on a Sunday night, which we now have on a Tuesday, which I personally am not very convinced with the clarity we had from (referee) Nic Berry."

Erasmus was also eager to point out that Gatland had questioned why Faf de Klerk had not been sent off in the Lions' defeat to South Africa A earlier in the tour, while he also took issue at the decision to appoint Marius Jonker as TMO in the first Test, a move made after original selection Brendon Pickerill was ruled out due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think where things for us got cluttered and frustrating was when the Lions started moaning about officiating on the field, where for example Faf got a yellow card in the South Africa A game," Erasmus said.

"The Lions criticised that and said they wanted clarity from World Rugby where it should have been a red card and was it not direct head contact. We had in the same game lots of clips of the Lions making mistakes, just like us. Warren openly said it should have been a red card.

"Obviously then he talks to the media and according to me is that you don't talk to the media, you talk to World Rugby. Again, it is a bit of a grey area. If you wanted to go in such depth about Faf's.

"We just put two on social media. We saw it as banter. Before a big Test match, they put some pressure, we put some pressure on.

"Where we got a bit worried was this narrative that we are this dirty team and all the chat was that the South Africans want to play physical and that’s why they highlighted the Faf thing.

"When the TMO was drawn and Marius Jonker was appointed, the Lions made such a fuss of it. We don't want this negativity in South Africa."

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