Kolisi magnificent in defeat, while Erasmus again lashes out at the officials

Kolisi magnificent in defeat, while Erasmus again lashes out at the officials

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has risen from a sometimes overlooked backrow to one of the very best players and captains in the international game.

Starting his career with the Eastern Province Kings in 2007, Kolisi moved to the bigger Western Province and their Super Rugby side the Stormers in 2010.

With over 150 appearances for the Cape Town-based union, Kolisi rose through the South African Rugby ranks before finally making his Springbok debut in 2013.

Two years into his international career, Kolisi would make the Boks’ 2015 Rugby World Cup squad as a winger and was involved in the now infamous loss to Japan.

This loss would be the catalyst for a Springbok slump between 2015 – 2018 as the Boks plummeted to new lows including losses to Italy, a home loss to Ireland and Argentina as well as several heavy defeats to New Zealand.

During this time, both Heyneke Mayer and Allister Coetzee would be shown the door as head coaches, paving the way for the current management duo of Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber.

In what has proved to be a masterstroke, Erasmus promoted Kolisi to the role of captain.

The rest as they say is history, Kolisi would go on to not only be the first ever black Springbok captain but would also win a Rugby World Cup.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind with Kolisi rising through the ranks to superstardom as one of the most recognizable figures in the game.

Now signed to Jay-Z’s Roc-Nation sports agency, Kolisi’s profile has continued to grow outside the traditional rugby strongholds.

Throughout, Kolisi has been a humble, hard-working but charismatic leader in both victory and defeat.

After falling short in their recent clash with world number one ranked Ireland, Kolisi was once again magnanimous in his assessment of his team’s performance.

Speaking to Virgin Media immediately after the final whistle, Kolisi kept his composure, saying: “We always knew it was going to be tough and we were going to get minimal opportunities. When we created opportunities we didn’t take them and when you play against a team in world class like this… one or two sniffs and they score two tries.

“But congratulations to them, they did well. They stopped our maul, they stopped our scrummaging and they came out firing today, like we thought they would.”

“Ireland are a fantastic team,” he added. “The Irish people should be really proud of their team and continue to support and celebrate them.”

While Kolisi remained humble, sadly the same could not be said for his boss and current South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.

Erasmus, who had just returned from a lengthy ban for his “leaked” video criticizing referee Nic Berry following the Boks’ loss to the British and Irish Lions in the first Test of their 2021 series, was once again at it when he posted from his personal post. Twitter account.

Brilliant rugby there is no doubt, Erasmus’ last shot at a referee (this time Georgian Nika Amashukeli) may well have backfired.

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In an attempt to point out that Ireland had illegally kicked through a ruck he inadvertently passed Kolisi under the bus, who was about to complete a dangerous neck roll on Irish hooker Dan Sheehan.

Away from the pitch, Erasmus’ latest antics are yet another example of his reactionary behavior in the face of defeat.

It seems that not only the heavy sanction from World Rugby, but also the highly publicized heavy toll it took on Berry’s mental health, was not enough to deter this behaviour.

Berry would go on to claim Erasmus’ actions were “character assassination” in a lengthy statement he released in connection with World Rugby.

“Needless to say, the whole situation has been an extremely difficult time for my family and I,” Berry told World Rugby’s judicial panel.

“As a match manager, I understand that our performance will be closely scrutinized, 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.”

Berry went on to make the statement, highlighting the honor he felt when he heard he had been named to officiate a Lions test.

β€œI considered refereeing in a Lions tour comparable to that in a World Cup. The appointment is an honor that few achieve. However, due to the actions of Mr Erasmus, my family and I have endured a significant amount of hardship and we will only have negative memories of the whole experience.

β€œI feel Mr Erasmus engaged in character assassination of me on social media. I have spent many years building my reputation as an international referee, and in the course of his video, which was posted online, Erasmus has caused it immeasurable damage.

“While a small proportion of the rugby community will follow the outcome of this case, and in the process get an accurate account of what really happened, the wider rugby community will only be aware of me in the context of this incident.”

Going further, Berry emphasized that even if Erasmus would eventually forget the incident, it was the judge’s reputation that would be unfairly tarnished.

“I feel that regardless of the outcome and any sanctions imposed, my reputation as a judge and as a person will forever be tarnished.”

“Throughout this whole ordeal I have maintained my professionalism despite being the target of an unprecedented personal attack in the media,”

“I felt that Mr Erasmus’ video called into question my professionalism and my integrity as a referee and that it was an inference to be drawn that I somehow cheated as a referee, which is obviously completely untrue.”

“My reputation throughout the rugby community has suffered immeasurably due to his actions and I recognize that the impending investigation is likely to lead to more public scrutiny and unwanted media attention,”

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β€œBut 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 hearing will set a precedent to discourage similar behavior in the future so that no one has to experience what I have experienced in recent weeks.” Berry concluded.

Although Erasmus has defended his previous action by refusing to release the Lions Test video himself, there is absolutely no doubt that he was the one who released the latest video in relation to the Irish Test.

As a sport, Rugby is seen in the prism of many other sports as an example of exceptional sportsmanship with respect for the officials at the forefront.

In this case, it is clear that Erasmus has departed from these values ​​in pursuit of an external advantage for his team.

Perhaps the hardest element of this to understand is that a man who is clearly highly intelligent and thorough has no problem unleashing an angry mob on a group of people who are vital to the game we all love.

Criticism is par for the course in all sports, but this extends further online with vile, unjustified and frankly unfounded attacks from faceless twitter handles. The potential for the next generation of referees to believe that the consequences are too serious to pick up a whistle will therefore have a hugely damaging impact on the game as a whole.

In a rather interesting conversation, Irish Rugby talk show ‘Off The Ball’ host Joe Molloy discussed Erasmus’ antics in detail with Irish journalist Gerry Thornley and former Leinster player Andy Dunne.

Regarding Erasmus’ latest tweet, Molloy said: “I guess the account wasn’t hacked, so he takes responsibility for this thing becoming public.”

“I just want to say that he is launching the twitter mob against the referee (Nika Amashukeli), what he has done is shown two clips with the ball kicked in the ruck. On one occasion it was allowed in Ireland’s favor and on the other it was not in South Africa’s.

“Look it was a mistake, referees are allowed to make mistakes, I dare say if you consider Rassie’s performance throughout the week and over the 80 minutes they also made mistakes and these things happen.”

“But that’s not allowed with Rassie, so he has to go to Twitter and really try to put this referee publicly under massive pressure and he would have heard the pressure that Nic Berry was under last year and still is.”

“I hear he’s a very charismatic person and I know a lot of people in Munster are very fond of him, but I have to say I’m watching from afar and I don’t like his behavior that much.” Molloy concluded.

Joining the conversation, Thornley agreed with his host, saying: β€œNo, I don’t either. I think it’s pathetic.”

Thornley pointed out that Erasmus never has a problem with officials provided the Boks emerge victorious.

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β€œI happen to think what came out in the media was both after the Springbok defeat. Both the video rounds and now this one.”

“So basically the Springboks shouldn’t lose, there’s a sense of entitlement that they’re world champions and they should be able to beat the Lions and Ireland.”

“It’s so one-eyed but in South Africa of course he’s the king so everyone buys into this and it’s very polarizing and it’s damaging to the game. It’s pathetic. He never picks out decisions that went unfairly in his favour. Β»

Thornley went on to point out an incident where Ireland were wrongly penalized for an offside offense which allowed the Springboks to equalize before half-time. Thornley also highlights the controversial incident where Cheslin Kolbe could well have been shown a red card for a reckless tackle on Ireland’s Mack Hansen.

Molloy then said “He knows what he is doing and he must be punished for this”.

On the flip side, Dunne highlighted that indeed Erasmus’ behavior may well have a detrimental effect on the team’s future.

β€œHe walks a very fine line and turns international referees against his team; I don’t know how clever that is.”

“Referees are a tight-knit, selfish bunch, and a lot of them now are shipshape trim and look. They think through these games and analyze everything to the core. There’s no way they won’t come together in a very serious way, and they will discuss this.”

β€œI can’t believe 15-20 of these guys are going to say we’re going to be hit by Rassie Erasmus. So I’m not sure it’s going to go in his favor, so you’re going to have a lot of judges saying I want to take this one.”

β€œI guarantee you’ll have a couple of referees coming into a game saying I want this and they’re not going to bully me. That it’s not a good result for your team if the refs are almost going against you to prove a point,” Dunne concluded.

From a South African perspective, it would be interesting to get an in-depth insight into how Kolisi and the rest of the squad view Erasmus’ antics.

When we land in France next September, the Boks will have a target on their backs as reigning champions. What they don’t want is external pressure and goals from the leaders who, ironically, have been generated by the very man who turned them from near-runners to world champions.

Written by Philip Bendon

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