Sharks owner promises to legally back Rassie Erasmus in World Rugby hearing

Sharks owner Rassie Erasmus

Marco Masotti, the head of the US-based consortium which owns a majority share of the Sharks, has promised to back Rassie Erasmus against World Rugby.

South Africa director of rugby Erasmus will face an independent misconduct hearing for the hour-long video he made in which he criticised the officials from the first British and Irish Lions test.

Should the independent committee decide that Erasmus broke protocol, he could be fined or suspended from a number of Springboks matches.

However, Sharks majority shareholder Masotti has publicly promised to back Erasmus and the South African Rugby Union, saying he has a team of New York lawyers waiting on standby to take a case against World Rugby.

World Rugby’s statement on Rassie Erasmus.

Erasmus will face a misconduct hearing for his post-game comments on the officiating performance from the first test, but World Rugby is yet to set a date for the hearing.

The sport’s governing body released a statement explaining why they were summoning Erasmus for a hearing, while also defending the officiating team involved in the first test.

“Match officials are the backbone of the sport, and without them, there is no game,” a statement read.

“World Rugby condemns any public criticism of their selection, performance or integrity which undermines their role, the well-established and trust-based coach-officials feedback process, and more importantly, the values that are at the heart of the sport.

“Having conducted a full review of all the available information, World Rugby is concerned that individuals from both teams have commented on the selection and/or performance of match officials.

“However, the extensive and direct nature of the comments made by Rassie Erasmus within a video address, in particular, meets the threshold to be considered a breach of World Rugby Regulation 18 (Misconduct and Code of Conduct) and will now be considered by an independent disciplinary panel. The date and panel will be confirmed in due course.”

Warren Gatland’s thoughts on World Rugby’s statement.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland was unhappy with the World Rugby statement, as it implies members of the tourists’ squad have criticised the officials, something which he categorically denied.

“We’ve tried to maintain as much integrity as we can, in terms of we haven’t been commenting on the referee. We never questioned the TMO or the integrity of the TMO,” Gatland argued.

“The only question we asked is why haven’t World Rugby put a contingency plan in place that if people couldn’t travel or if people had gotten sick?

“That is the only question that we had asked so yeah, I’m really disappointed with part of the statement in that they’ve said both sides have been making comments and being critical of the officials.

“I’d like someone to show me where we have done that. We’ve looked through everything and we can’t see any instances where we have been critical of the officials. In fact, I think we’ve praised the officials.”

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