Berry: Erasmus engaged in a ‘character assassination of me’

On Wednesday, an independent misconduct committee found that behaviour displayed by Rassie Erasmus towards match officials during this year’s Test series between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions officially constituted misconduct.

BREAKING: RASSIE SUSPENDED BY WORLD RUGBY

It followed the disciplinary hearing that was held after World Rugby charged Erasmus and SA Rugby for misconduct in relation to an hour-long video that became public.

In the video, Erasmus pointed out 26 incidents in which he felt the officials had made the incorrect decisions, while suggesting that Berry had also shown disrespect towards captain Siya Kolisi.

As part of the judgement after World Rugby issues a charge of misconduct, Erasmus has been suspended with immediate effect from all rugby activities for two months.

READ | RASSIE, SA RUGBY TO APPEAL WORLD RUGBY VERDICT

In addition, he has been suspended from all match-day activities (including coaching, contact with match officials, and media engagement) with immediate effect until 30 September, 2022

The ruling also includes “a warning as to his future conduct and an apology to the relevant match officials”.

As part of the ruling, which implied Erasmus had threatened Berry, testimony from the Australian official was also taken into account.

BREAKING: RULING STATES RASSIE ‘THREATENED’ REFEREE

It reads as follows:

“Needless to say, the whole situation has been an extremely difficult time for my family and I. As
a match official I understand that our performances will be heavily scrutinised, especially in such a
prestigious tournament. However, the public attack on my integrity and character is not something
that should be tolerated in any workplace.
“…I considered officiating in a Lions tour comparable with that in a World Cup. The appointment
is a honour which few achieve. However, due to the actions of Mr Erasmus, my family and I have
endured a significant amount of distress and we will only have negative memories of the whole
experience.
I feel that Mr Erasmus engaged in a character assassination of me on social media. I have spent
many years trying to build my reputation as an international referee and in the course of his video
which was posted online, Mr Erasmus has caused it immeasurable damage. Though a small
proportion of the rugby community will follow the outcome of this matter, and in the process obtain
an accurate account of what really occurred, the wider rugby community will only be aware of me
in the context of this incident. I feel that regardless of the outcome and any sanctions imposed, my
reputation as a referee and person will forever be tarnished.
Throughout Mr Erasmus’ video he makes unsubstantiated claims about the incidents that occurred
in the 72hrs after the first test match which I refereed. Throughout this whole ordeal I’ve maintained
my professionalism despite being the target of an unprecedented personal attack played out in the
media. The evidence attached is an accurate and detailed account of what really happened and
should assist World Rugby in their judicial hearing into the matter.
I felt that Mr Erasmus’ video brought into question my professionalism and my integrity as a match
official and that there was an inference to be drawn that I was in some way cheating as an official,
which is obviously completely untrue.
My reputation throughout the rugby community has suffered immeasurably from his actions and I
acknowledge that the impending investigation will likely lead to more public scrutiny and unwanted
media attention. However, his actions are against everything our game stands for and I feel it’s
important to take a stand against such behaviour. I sincerely hope that the outcome of the
independent judicial hearing will set a precedent to discourage similar behaviour in the future so
that no person has to experience what I have these past few weeks.”

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