Durban – Feel free to block me. That is Rassie Erasmus’ terse response to mounting criticism on social media that he is losing the plot with his criticism of officiating, with widely respected former referee Nigel Owens weighing in that Erasmus “has not learned his lesson”.
The SA director of rugby has released a torrent of tweets since the day his World Rugby suspension concluded on November 5 — the day the Springboks played Ireland in Dublin which — coincidentally — was also his 50th birthday.
That day the Boks lost narrowly to Ireland and the performance of Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli came under scrutiny from Erasmus, who pointed out differing responses to the same kind of incidents.
Erasmus these days is more subtle in his criticisms, and he cloaks them in charm, but the points he makes are very clear.
And while the wily Erasmus is always spot on in the points he makes, there are some South Africans who feel he is going too far and that it is causing growing anti-Bok sentiment at World Rugby and among its officials.
Guys please free to block or mute me, its really not a problem and better for our health!! Sorry if any of the tweets were offending you!! Also of you dont agree with my tweets please ignore them&dont use for click bate man, use your own tweets and stuff dont be a parasite Lekka
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) November 14, 2022
On Sunday, the day a movie on his life premiered on DStv, Erasmus was on top form and a series of clips on Twitter highlighted Wayne Barnes’ refereeing implosion towards the end of the Boks’ game against France on Saturday, won 30-26 by the French.
Former Ireland player Shane Horgan ripped into Erasmus in a strongly-worded column on social media, many fans called on Erasmus to calm down before he gets into similar trouble with the authorities as he did after his infamous video assassination of Nic Berry during last year’s British & Irish Lions series.
But the unrepentant Erasmus on Tuesday tweeted: “Guys please feel free to block or mute me. It’s really not a problem and better for our health!”
Owens, speaking on The Telegraph’s “Rugby Podcast”, said Erasmus’ comments are not good for the game.
“I saw these (videos) come up and I was thinking ‘is this his genuine profile? Is he doing this?’” said Owens.
“I’d have thought he’d have learned his lesson by now. There’s a procedure in place.
“If you have questions about decisions – as every coach would have – referees can’t get everything right, there is a process to go through.
“You send your timeline to the referee manager, which would be Joel Jutge at World Rugby, and they would look at that with the referee.
“Then they would reply to the coach and say: ‘Yeah, this could have been penalised’ or ‘the referee is correct’. Or, ‘This is a grey one. This is what the referee feels and it’s his interpretation of it (but) it could well have gone the other way’. That’s the nature of the game.
“Once you start putting things out there on social media questioning decisions, that’s not what this game is about. I don’t think it’s right and I don’t like it.
“Go through the proper channels, and as long as everyone is open and honest and transparent … that is the way forward, not (to do it) on social media.”