- Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby want their independent misconduct hearings to be made public to ensure there is transparency.
- According to Rapport, there’s a growing fear at SA Rugby that the governing body – and Erasmus – will not receive a fair trial if the hearing takes place behind closed doors
- However, World Rugby has responded by saying “hearings are never open to the public”.
SA Rugby director of Rassie Erasmus and his employers have requested that their upcoming independent misconduct hearings be made public to ensure there is transparency in the disciplinary process.
This comes after World Rugby confirmed last week that the hearings would take place over the weekend of 30-31 October.
It will be chaired by independent judicial panel chairperson Christopher Quinlan QC and the panel will include Nigel Hampton QC and Judge Mike Mika, both of New Zealand.
Earlier in the year, World Rugby formally charged SA Rugby and Erasmus after he compiled 62-minute video in which he hit out at the officiating, in particular that of Australian referee Nic Berry, following the Springboks’ first Test loss to the British & Irish Lions.
If found guilty, the SA Rugby director of rugby’s punishments could range from a fine to even having the Springboks stripped of their series victory over the Lions.
But there’s seemingly a growing fear at SA Rugby that the governing body – and Erasmus – will not receive a fair trial if the hearing takes place behind closed doors and that the outcome of the hearing has been predetermined.
Afrikaans newspaper Rapport reported on Sunday that these fears resulted in SA Rugby asking for an open disciplinary hearing.
However, the request fell on deaf ears with World Rugby responding “hearings are never open to the public” when asked for comment on the matter.
In reaction to World Rugby’s response, Erasmus’ lawyer, Frikkie Erasmus, said there are regulations in place that make provision for hearings to be held in public if it is deemed to be in the interest of justice.
“The allegations against Rassie are unfounded and the facts will be revealed during the hearing,” he told Rapport.
“It is therefore in the interest of justice to have a transparent hearing. There is no justification for any secrecy.”
Another of SA Rugby and Erasmus’ concerns is the three-man disciplinary panel appointed to oversee the hearing.
The global governing body said it would be an independent disciplinary hearing, but all three panel members are on its payroll and form part of World Rugby’s regular disciplinary panel.
The report added that SA Rugby and Erasmus expected the independent panel to consist of outside parties.