RFU demands action against Erasmus after death threats

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By Creative Media News

The Rugby Football Union has filed a complaint against Rassie Erasmus for his social media statements regarding Wayne Barnes’ officiating performance, which has resulted in death threats against the official. South Africa Rugby is under increasing pressure to take action against Erasmus.

It is said that the RFU sent a furious letter to its South African colleagues this week, detailing how Barnes – who was in charge of his 100th Test last Saturday during France’s tight victory over South Africa – and his family have been exposed to online threats.

Erasmus was suspended by World Rugby for two matches on Thursday night for his social media rants following that encounter in Marseille, meaning he will miss the Springboks’ match against England at Twickenham the following week. However, there is a rising call for his employers to take action.

Rfu demands action against erasmus after death threats
Rfu demands action against erasmus after death threats

South Africa’s director of rugby has only recently returned from a 12-month ban from matchday activities for his hour-long video and forensic criticism of Australian referee Nic Berry during the British and Irish Lions’ 2021 tour to South Africa. Warren Gatland, who coached the Lions against South Africa, has also requested that Erasmus refrain from making social media comments.

The RFU is reportedly concerned about the mental toll Erasmus’s comments can have on officials – Berry described the intense pressure he faced last season – and wants the Springboks director of rugby to erase his posts, including several videos of events accompanied by snarky comments. Also on Friday, he wrote that he had no intention of encouraging South African supporters to harass Barnes online.

“Like myself, the French exam’s referee and his family have received threats and abuse,” Erasmus wrote Thursday. “It seems to be partially due to my tweets, which is completely incorrect. The tweets were not directed at the officials, but rather at our South African fans with suggestions for improvement. “Attack me, not the official!”

However, Eramsus has a large social media following, and his words undoubtedly sparked a flood of hate. Indeed, following his assertions, the wife of South African winger Cheslin Kolbe implied in a since-deleted social media post that match officials for France’s victory over the Springboks had accepted a bribe.

Erasmus was finally banned for his behavior during the Lions tour in November of 2016 – four months after the incidents occurred – but World Rugby has now strengthened its disciplinary process and Erasmus was swiftly sanctioned 12 months later. Similar social media messages were posted after South Africa’s tight loss to Ireland.

Thursday’s World Rugby statement said, “Match officials are the backbone of the sport; without them, there is no game. World Rugby opposes any public criticism of match official selection, performance, or integrity, as it undermines their job, the trust-based coach/match official feedback process, and the core values of the sport: integrity, respect, solidarity, and discipline.

The behavior of coaching staff and match officials is widely observed by fans, media, and participants at all levels of the game, and these behaviors influence how the game’s core ideals are implemented.”

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