Australian Test referee Nic Berry, who was left distressed at a video “character assassination” from Rassie Erasmus, has got an apology from the South African director of rugby.
It follows both South Africa and Erasmus deciding to withdraw their plans to appeal against the punishments imposed for his hour-long video criticising Berry after the first Test against the British and Irish Lions.
Berry said he and his family had suffered an “extremely difficult time” after Erasmus released the video which made waves on social media.
He told a World Rugby disciplinary hearing into Erasmus’s misconduct: “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.”
Erasmus, who last week received a ban for two months and was barred from attending Tests in an official capacity for ten months, had originally said he would appeal against the punishment, which also stated he would have to apologise to the official.
But on Thursday, SA Rugby, which was also fined $US27,000 ($A38,000) for the incident, said in a statement: “SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus wish to apologise to the match officials appointed to the first Test of the Springboks’ series against the British and Irish Lions.
“We also confirm that SA Rugby and Erasmus have advised World Rugby that they withdraw their Notice of Appeal and will not lodge an appeal against the sanctions imposed by the Judicial Committee.
“This has been a highly stressful and charged environment with unusual pressures placed on all concerned and we have no wish to prolong that experience for anyone.
“We have drawn a line under the incident and only wish to look forward. We will respect the outcomes of the hearing, allowing our national teams and rugby operations to plan with clarity for the coming months.”
World Rugby said it welcomed the public apology and considered the case to be closed.