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Rugby Australia slams Erasmus' 'attack on referee's integrity, character and reputation'

Rugby Australia has come out in firm opposition to South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus...

Rugby Australia has come out in firm opposition to South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus' statements about their referee, Nic Berry in a statement released on Friday.

An hour-long video was released on Thursday of Erasmus detailing a number of errors and what he called 'different levels of respect' towards Springbok captain Siya Kolisi from the referee in the world champions' opening test against the British and Irish Lions.

The Lions won the match 22-17, while Erasmus pointed to a few crucial calls that he believes should have gone the Springboks' way, and could have changed the match in their favour.

In the video, Erasmus criticised the manner in which Berry treated Kolisi versus how he treated Lions' captain Alun Wyn Jones, and also suggested that there was major inconsistencies which swung in the tourists' favour.

In a statement released on Friday morning, Rugby Australia, the body to whom Nic Berry is affiliated, spoke out against the manner in which Erasmus made his grievances known.

"Rugby Australia has noted with dismay and concern the recent public commentary by South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, regarding Australian referee Nic Berry and other match officials," the statement said.

"There is no place for abuse of match officials in Australian Rugby, with Rugby Australia committed to promoting a fair, safe and inclusive Rugby experience for all participants, officials and fans."

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos added that the union has taken the issue up with World Rugby and that he and Rugby Australia will continue to support Berry..

“Match officials form the very fabric of our game – simply, the game would not exist without them," Marinos said. "As a highly regarded and respected international referee appointed by World Rugby, the attack on Nic’s integrity, character and reputation is unacceptable.

“We have been in contact with World Rugby, under whose auspices this Test Series sit, and understand that they are actively reviewing this matter as some facts presented were not accurate.

"It is important to ensure public attacks of this nature are not tolerated. We will continue to provide support to Nic at this time, as both his physical and mental wellbeing remains a priority for us."

World Rugby had previously issued a statement acknowledging the video of Erasmus, and that they are taking the matter up with South Africa.

"World Rugby notes the comments made by Rassie Erasmus. The nature of these will be raised with the union via the usual official channels and no further comment will be made at this stage," the statement from World Rugby said.

The Springboks will take on the British and Irish Lions on Saturday in the crucial second test, where the hosts hope to keep the series alive, while the tourists will be wanting to secure their series victory.

Catch every moment of the British and Irish Lions series on Off The Ball, with live commentary from the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Keith Wood, Alan Quinlan and more throughout the test series.

Brian O'Driscoll will be on commentary duties again for the second test this weekend, live on OTB Sports.

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Andy Marinos British And Irish Lions Lions Nic Berry Rassie Erasmus Rugby Australia South Africa Springboks