Erasmus denies leaking infamous Lions tour video

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Final - England v South Africa - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - November 2, 2019 South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Matthew Childs/File Photo

CAPE TOWN, March 6 (Reuters) - South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has denied he made public his now infamous 62-minute video critique of the performance of the match officials after the first test against the British & Irish Lions last year.

Erasmus was found guilty of misconduct by an independent committee in November and suspended from all rugby for two months, while he may not be involved in match-day activities with the Springboks until September.

"People think I leaked that video. I didn't. Who leaks something like that? Why would I screw up my whole career to do that?" Erasmus told Sportsmail.

The 2019 World Cup-winning coach claims he made the video after repeatedly trying to engage referee Nic Berry, without success, on issues he wanted clarity on from the 22-17 first test loss in Cape Town.

"I decided the only way to get clarity on the decisions was to send this voiceover video that the whole rugby world has now seen.

"I often send videos after the match. It is not unusual for me. I did it at the 2019 World Cup and it was all fine.

"It's a good way to explain and communicate things that require clarification. (World Rugby's head of match officials) Joel (Jutge) came back to me and said, 'Great work, you've got competent people there, we picked up the same things in our review'.

"So why would I make this one public when I don't make any of the others public? I only sent it to Joel and Joe (Schmidt) at World Rugby, the ref (Berry), my CEO (Jurie Roux), who was tour director, our head coach (Jacques Nienaber) and my players."

Erasmus says eight of the first 35 views of the video were in Australia.

"How? Why on earth would I leak it to guys in Australia? It comes out and suddenly I look like the villain. It just doesn't make sense."

The Boks won the series 2-1 but the off-field issues cast a pall over the tour for many on both sides.

"I've not spoken to (Lions coach) Warren (Gatland) since and that's sad. Very sad. We didn't even say goodbye. I think he thinks I leaked the video and that makes me sad," Erasmus said.

Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Kim Coghill

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