The Springboks came back to beat the British and Irish Lions 2-1, but the series win could be overturned because of an hour-long video posted by director Rassie Erasmus between the first two Tests
South Africa did, after all, succeed in coming back to win the series having lost 22-17 in the first Test, after which Erasmus appeared on camera for 62 minutes marking what he felt were mistakes by the referees.
But even that reward may be taken from the Springboks after Afrikaans-language Rapport reported South Africa could be stripped of their 27-9 victory in the series’ second Test.
It seemed only too coincidental that days after Erasmus had highlighted a list of concerns with the refereeing, the next game lasted more than two hours as officials deliberated over a litany of decisions.
The Springboks chief is due in front of a World Rugby panel for a disciplinary hearing regarding his comments, with fears his protest will discourage people from wanting to become officials.
And according to this latest report, South Africa could be stripped of that second Test win in Cape Town, while the most extreme punishment could even see the series overturned in favour of the Lions.
Although that outcome would feel like the most hollow of victories for Warren Gatland ’s side, it would send a reminder to the rugby world that outbursts like Erasmus’ are not acceptable in the sport.
Gatland suffered his first series defeat as a Lions head coach in South Africa, though he may well agree the tour was muddied by the circus related to refereeing—both on and off the pitch.
As well as pinpointing two dozen or so opening-Test infringements and decisions he felt were wrong, Erasmus also suggested referee Nic Berry showed Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones preferential treatment.
Comparing the approach afforded to Jones and South Africa counterpart Siya Kolisi, the Springboks supremo said they were on “two different levels.”
“There was a vast difference between who he was taking serious and who he wasn’t taking serious,” Erasmus added in reference to the official’s handling of Jones and Kolisi.
Along with the series scoreline potentially being affected as a result of Erasmus’ rant, there’s also a risk the sport’s lawmakers will temporarily restrict funding to South Africa Rugby.
It’s already been suggested that the team’s director of rugby faces a potential stadium ban, which could affect South Africa’s fortunes in the 2021 Rugby Championship.
The reigning world champions opened their tournament with a 32-12 win over Argentina on Saturday when head coach Jacques Nienaber rung the changes after a draining Lions series.
South Africa hope to continue their victorious start when they host the Pumas in Port Elizabeth again on Saturday before turning their attentions to Australia and New Zealand.