Tomorrow will see the 1st day of the two day disciplinary hearing against Rassie and SARU commence. Its been a while since the video that is the subject of the hearing came to light, we have to look all the way back to the 29th of July, shortly before the second test. There has been so much speculation surrounding the circumstances surrounding the video and its release to the public and on Saturday and Sunday the matter will be dealt with by World Rugby.
World Rugby formally charged the Director of Rugby and SARU after Rassie produced the video that highlighted a host of officiating discrepancies in the 1st test, handled by Australian referee, Nic Berry. The rugby community was outraged at the release of the hour long video, going against the tradition of not publicly questioning the match officials. Many thought World Rugby had an airtight case against the Springboks retired water boy, but as time has worn on, the case is no longer so clear cut.
England head coach Eddie Jones called on World Rugby to take swift action on the matter, and this was the 1st time we really caught wind of the fact that there was more to the story than what had been told. Rassie made it clear that the video was produced because he had experienced difficulties in obtaining feedback from officials and thus lost valuable time to prepare the side. However, in reply to Jones, Rassie quips "what if it wasn't leaked by Rassie."
Overall, he raises 26 points in the video in which he believes Nic Berry erred, and regardless of whether or not they are correct, raising them in the media violated World Rugby's laws and could have incurred stiff penalties for both SARU and the director himself, ranging from forfeiting a win, to fines and bans. However, the most crucial aspect of this entire case is simple... who leaked the video?
World Rugby has reportedly conceded that 23 of the 26 points raised were correct, however that doesn't change the fact that airing them publicly is the actual violation that occurred. So, what if, it wasn't Rassie, nor SARU nor any affiliate that leaked the video?
Erasmus has put on record that he sent the video to World Rugby officials, Joel Jutge (referee's manager), Nic Berry, the Springbok management and squad members. This is all permissible and within protocol. So how did the video reach the media? It is believed that the video went live from Australia and was distributed from there, so the proof on that is going to be key to unlocking the true story here.
Rassie called on World Rugby to hold a public hearing and ones gut tells them that this is so that nothing gets swept under the rug and transparency in the process is available to the alleged perpetrator. At this point it seems as though World Rugby and possibly some of its representatives may have some explaining to do, could it be that once again, Rassie has outsmarted the men from up North?
World Rugby publishes the verdict of their hearings and you can check back with us for a summary on this once its delivered, but for now, in true Rassie style, chess not checkers.