South Africa’s under-fire director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will not travel to Australia where the Springboks continue their Rugby Championship campaign over fears his presence may cause a distraction.
Erasmus is preparing to face a World Rugby hearing and has been hit with various charges from World Rugby after the now infamous 62-minute video he created as a critique of Australian referee Nic Berry’s performance in the first Test loss to the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town last month.
It drew a furious response from Rugby Australia, who called the video “unacceptable and against the spirit and values of the game.”
Head coach Jacques Nienaber said Erasmus, who filled the role of water carrier for the side in the Lions series and provided instructions to players on the pitch during matches, may link up with the team later, “schedule permitting”.
“Rassie has decided to remain in South Africa for now to allow the focus around the team to remain on the Rugby Championship and the team itself so that they can perform to the best of their ability on the field,” Nienaber said in a media release from South African Rugby on Thursday.
“He will continue to play an active role in our team and coaches meetings throughout the tour and, schedule permitting, he may join us later on.”
Erasmus could be hit with a number of sanctions by World Rugby if found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute, ranging from a fine to a stadium ban or even a complete suspension from the game.
The Boks have taken 42 players for the remaining four matches of the Championship, as strict COVID-19 travel protocols mean it will not be feasible for them to add more later in the event of injury.
Nienaber said they expect the entire group to be available for their first game on Australian soil against the hosts on the Gold Coast on September 12.
Which suggests a return for key injured players, including No 8 Duane Vermeulen and scrum-half Faf de Klerk.
“All of the players should be available for selection for the first Test against Australia, so the coaches will be in a good position in terms of squad selection when we begin our preparations for those matches,” Nienaber added.
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