Rugby Australia berates Erasmus over 'abuse' of referee Berry

Rassie Erasmus of South Africa during the Castle Lager Lions Series 1st Test match between South Africa and British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on July 24, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Rassie Erasmus of South Africa during the Castle Lager Lions Series 1st Test match between South Africa and British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on July 24, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: EJ Langner/Gallo Images

Rugby's governing body in Australia criticised what it termed the abuse of referee Nic Berry by South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus following the first test between the Springboks and British & Irish Lions in Cape Town.

Erasmus used 26 clips in an hour-long video critique of the match officials' performance in Saturday's match, which the Lions won 22-17, accusing Australian Berry of not showing Bok captain Siya Kolisi the same respect as his Lions counterpart Alun Wyn Jones.

Rugby Australia said it noted "with dismay and concern the recent public commentary ...regarding Australian referee Nic Berry and other match officials."

"There is no place for abuse of match officials in Australian Rugby... Rugby Australia believes the recent actions are unacceptable and against the spirit and values of the game," it said in a statement.

Its Chief Executive, Andy Marinos, said Berry was a highly regarded and respected international referee.

"The attack on Nic’s integrity, character and reputation is unacceptable," he added.

South African Rugby declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Rassie Erasmus chats about the back and forth battle between him and Warren Gatland, the match officials and goes through some clips where the Springboks were on the wrong the end of refereeing decisions. #Rugby #LionsTour #LionsSA2021 VIDEO CREDIT: JJ – https://vimeo.com/user107832127

"We have been in contact with World Rugby... and understand that they are actively reviewing this matter as some facts presented were not accurate," Merinos added, suggesting that Berry had been affected by the public criticism.

"It is important to ensure public attacks of this nature are not tolerated. We will continue to provide support to Nic at this time, as both his physical and mental wellbeing remains a priority for us."

The second test between the Boks and Lions will be played at the same venue on Saturday.

The match will be refereed by New Zealander Ben O'Keeffe, with Berry and Frenchman Mathieu Raynal as assistants.

Raynal will take charge of the third and final test on Aug 7.