- SA rugby director Rassie Erasmus and his employer SA Rugby had requested a public hearing.
- World Rugby denied the request, saying there were no exceptional circumstances justifying a violation of the disciplinary rule book.
- Erasmus and SA Rugby will appeal the sanctions.
The panel that decided the disciplinary fate of Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby has set out the reasons for holding the hearing behind closed doors, although an open hearing has been requested.
On an odd question of timing, World Rugby released its 80-page advice and sanction under Erasmus’ infamous on Wednesday 62 minute video Expressing dissatisfaction with referee Nic Berry after the first Test against the British & Irish Lions.
The Management Board took offense at the Erasmus video and dragged him in front of an independent disciplinary committee and while dragging with the details of the hearing, SA Rugby and Erasmus World Rugby requested that the hearing be made public.
“It is in the interests of the judiciary to have a transparent hearing. There is no justification for secrecy, ”said Erasmus’ lawyer Frikkie Erasmus [no relation] told the Afrikaans newspaper Rapport when she brought her case forward.
The independent judges panel was chaired by Christopher Quinlan QC and the panel included Nigel Hampton QC and Judge Mike Mika, both from New Zealand.
In its judgment, the panel confirmed that both Erasmus and SA Rugby had raised the issue of a public hearing: “There are differences between the public interest, the public interest and the interest of justice,” the panel begins its verdict.
The panel used rule 20.1.8 to back up its decision, which reads: “Hearings are normally held under private control unless either party wishes the hearing to be public”.
The verdict then went on: “We have also considered the interests of the witnesses, particularly Nic Berry, who has already been the subject of much unfair and undesirable public criticism (and worse) after our release of the Erasmus video. It was also important to us to ensure that this process did not develop into a spectacle that undermined the real problems we had to solve ”.
The panel tried to indicate that due process was followed at all times during the hearing, which took place on the weekend of October 30-31.
“Public scrutiny would have no impact on the fairness of this trial and would not oblige witnesses to be more truthful than they might otherwise be,” the report said.
The panel concluded: “We understand the importance of public scrutiny. The proceedings are private, but not secret. “
SA Rugby and Erasmus have made their intentions to appeal clear, while World Rugby has sought to remove any duplicity regarding the duration of their call-up.