Gregor Townsend believes World Rugby should ban all coaches from the touchline to prevent “intimidation” of players and officials in the light of the Rassie Erasmus affair.
And the Scotland coach revealed the controversial South African director of rugby had been “sledging” Scotland players on the sideline on Saturday at Murrayfield.
That was the last game before World Rugby slapped a 10-month touchline ban on the coach of the 2019 world champions for his hour-long video rant at referee Nic Berry after the first Lions test this summer.
Erasmus was also banned from all rugby activity for two months after World Rugby decided he had overstepped the mark in criticisms of Berry.
‘A really bad episode for our game’
Townsend, who was on the Lions staff as assistant coach, said he believed justice had been done by the World Rugby disciplinary decision, although it had taken too long.
“That was a really bad episode for our game,” he said. “I was there at the time so I experienced what was going on.
“I have since spoken to Nic Berry about it. He went through a really tough time and so did his family. That was a real shame and a pity that these things can happen in our sport.
“I don’t think it could have been allowed to continue. We can’t fall into that trap of winning at all costs and putting pressure on individuals.”
‘This is the tip of the iceberg’
World Rugby v Rassie Erasmus, the written decision is 80 pages long. The charges are damning, the verdict definitive pic.twitter.com/wN8mZwQbMU
— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) November 17, 2021
Townsend added that his only frustration was that it took four months for a decision to be reached. Even then, Erasmus and SA Rugby are appealing the verdict.
“It’s four months too late,” added the Scotland coach. “I remember having to go to two citings in a week for Zander (Fagerson) when he got (sent off) in the Six Nations.
“I feel that whatever happens around a game, whether it is as a player or coach or anyone related to the game, decisions have to be made more quickly.
“For me this is the tip of the iceberg. We’ve seen a lot of incidents where people on the sidelines are trying to intimidate players and officials.
“People are going onto the field of play as well to either coach their team or intimidate officials on the field. It’s got to stop.
“I would urge world rugby to make further changes. Why do we need coaches on the sidelines? If they are there they have to live up to certain behaviours and values that we pride in our game.
“I feel over the summer and since then, these have been lost.”
‘Character assassination or sledging’
That’s a lot of water for one water boy to carry 🙄 pic.twitter.com/hcuNa08QfR
— Craig Watson (@CraigWatsonpix) November 13, 2021
Townsend said he was made aware earlier in the week incidents during the game at Murrayfield on Saturday. Since becoming director of rugby after the World Cup, Rasmus has acted as a “water carrier” at pitchside. But he has clearly been coaching players and speaking to officials.
“I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, but someone showed me a video of him,” said Townsend. “He was making comments about one of our players, a character assassination or sledging or whatever.
“That’s not the role of coaches; it’s not the role of anybody on the sidelines to be doing that.
“If we want our sport to go down a different route then we allow these things to happen.
“That was really disappointing to see and I know it wasn’t the only incident over the weekend, during that game.”