SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
- SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and his employers SA Rugby had requested a public hearing.
- World Rugby declined the request, saying there were no exceptional circumstances to warrant going against the disciplinary rule book.
- Erasmus and SA Rugby will appeal the sanctions against them.
The panel which decided the disciplinary fate of Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby has detailed its reasons behind holding the hearing behind closed doors, despite requests for an open hearing.
In a curious question of timing, World Rugby on Wednesday released their 80 page deliberation and sanction following Erasmus’ infamous 62-minute video expressing his dissatisfaction with referee Nic Berry after the first Test against the British & Irish Lions.
The governing body took umbrage to Erasmus’ video and hauled him before an independent disciplinary committee and while they were dragging their feet in finalising the details of the hearing, SA Rugby and Erasmus asked World Rugby to make the hearing public.
“It is in the interest of justice to have a transparent hearing. There is no justification for any secrecy,” Erasmus’ lawyer, Frikkie Erasmus [no relation] told Afrikaans newspaper Rapport when making their case.
The independent judicial panel was chaired by Christopher Quinlan QC and the panel included Nigel Hampton QC and Judge Mike Mika, both of New Zealand.
In their ruling on the matter, the panel confirmed that both Erasmus and SA Rugby broached the subject of a public hearing: “There are differences between the public being interested, the public interest and the interests of justice,” the ruling from the panel begins.
The panel used Regulation 20.1.8 to buttress their decision, which reads: “Hearings shall ordinarily take place in private, save where any of the parties wishes the hearing to take place in public”.
The ruling then continued: “We also had regard to the interests of the witnesses, and in particular Nic Berry who has already been the subject of what we conclude to have been a great deal of unfair and unwanted public criticism (and worse) following publication of the Erasmus video. We were also concerned to ensure these proceedings did not develop into a spectacle detracting from the true issues we had to resolve”.
READ | The full 80-page misconduct report against Rassie Erasmus
The panel was at pains to point out that due process was observed at all times during the hearing, which took place over the weekend of 30-31 October.
“Public scrutiny would have no affect at all on the fairness of these proceedings nor oblige witnesses to be more truthful than they might otherwise be,” the report reads.
In concluding the point, the panel notes: “We understand the importance of public scrutiny. However, while the proceedings are private, they are not secret”.
SA Rugby and Erasmus have made their intentions to appeal clear, while World Rugby moved to quash any duplicity in how long it took for them to convene on the matter.
Source by www.news24.com