It's safe to say that Rassie Erasmus has learnt nothing from his 10 month ban in 2021, as he has taken to Twitter throughout the course of the Autumn International Series to criticise refereeing decisions that haven't gone his side's way.
Erasmus received a 10 month ban from attending matches in November 2021 after he was charged with six offences for criticising Australian referee Nic Berry following the first test match against the Lions in the summer. As part of his criticism, Erasmus released a one-hour-long video whereby he pointed out what he believed to be refereeing mistakes from the Australian.
Little has changed, with the South African Director of Rugby taking to Twitter following his side's defeat to Ireland and France this autumn. His tweets criticised the officiating and accused the referees of bias, sparking controversy online.
Since his social media outbursts, Rassie has been banned by World Rugby for two matches, and he will therefore miss this weekend's clash against England at Twickenham.
Rassie Erasmus' Tweets
Following defeat to Ireland and France this November, Erasmus took to Twitter to criticise refereeing decisions that negatively affected South Africa. The Tweets are not as blatant as the one hour video, and are a masterclass in passive-aggression. Frankly, they're quite embarassing.
Rassie Erasmus criticised the decision to not award a penalty for the ball being kicked in the ruck by Ireland's Dan Sheehan:
Tough test match, thanks for all the support from 🇿🇦, also thanks to the Ireland supporters at the Aviva, you definetly understand the game and its great to play in an atmosphere like yesterday ! Surely was a game of big battles,but small margins 👇🏿 pic.twitter.com/Jcjci2Jlvo
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) November 6, 2022
Detecting just a hint of sarcasm from Rassie:
Learning!! Those long passes just have an optical illusion attached to it, we will work hard at it!! 🇿🇦 pic.twitter.com/T76fdJk4y1
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) November 13, 2022
John Smit has his say
Legendary Springbok Captain John Smit has had his say on the whole affair, saying that he believes Rassie Erasmus handled the situation poorly. He issues a scathing attack on Erasmus' approach to the situation, highlighting the need for change in order to restore respect to the referee in Rugby.
The way he has approached this is not right. Are you telling me Rassie is the only coach frustrated by a call that has gone the wrong way? Something has to be done. A line has to be drawn, and he is making it difficult for his team. It's made the Boks, as a rugby team, so easy to dislike.
Rassie Erasmus is setting a bad precedent, causing referees to receive backlash online for minor mistakes. Smit believes that Rugby referees deserve more respect than they are currently being afforded and argues that this negative onslaught will only harm the Springboks going forward.
"The referees have to get control back. Everyone seems to think they have an influence over what the referee should be doing. When I was captain, when anyone else spoke they were disrespecting me, and the referee. Refereeing Rugby is incredibly difficult. What we want is consistency and respect, and i think when we start giving that back to the referee the pressure will be off them and we will have more consistent performances."
Obviously we would like all referees to have perfect games every weekend. But I think it starts with the players. We have this very masculine aggression in the men's game, and if you watched the women's World Cup final, you didn't see any of that going on. Maybe it is time for everyone across the board to do a little ego check, reset the clock and get back to what made rugby great, which is being respectful.
It's a bad look for Rassie Erasmus and for South African Rugby, and something that has to change. Erasmus has been punished for his recent Tweeting with a two-match ban. Maybe this will teach him...