Referee says Rassie Erasmus video caused 'immeasurable damage' to his reputation

Australian rugby referee Nic Berry, who was in charge of the First Test match between the Springboks and British and Irish Lions in July, said he was "traumatised" by the 62-minute video made by SA Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.

FILE: Springbok director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. Picture: Twitter/@Springboks

CAPE TOWN - Australian rugby referee Nic Berry, who was in charge of the heavily scrutinised First Test match between the Springboks and British and Irish Lions in July, said he and his family were "traumatised" by the 62-minute video made by SA Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.

In the video, Erasmus highlighted a list of alleged transgressions against the South Africans made by Berry and his team on the day. The former Springbok coach has now been banned for two months and barred from attending Test matches in an official role for 10 months.

On Wednesday evening, World Rugby released an 80-page written judgment announcing Erasmus and SA Rugby’s punishment, including the lengthy testimony from Berry.

The South African Rugby Union was found guilty on two charges of misconduct as well, for the actions of Erasmus and comments regarding match officials made by Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick in a press conference in the wake of the first Test against the Lions.

SA Rugby must pay a fine of £20,000 (R419 735,10), while both Erasmus and SA Rugby must apologise for their actions.

Less than an hour after the verdict was published via World Rugby, a short statement was issued by SA Rugby and Erasmus stating "they will exercise their rights to appeal the verdicts".

Below is the full statement of Nic Berry during the World Rugby hearing:

_"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 an 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.”