Did you see Rassie Erasmus’ social media posts about Wayne Barnes after the recent game between France and South Africa? (a game the Boks narrowly lost) Did you feel compelled afterward to send death threats to him and his family, or threaten sexual violence to his partner? No, me neither. True I’m not a South African supporter but if Warren Gatland (in his Welsh head-coach role) were to do the same, or something similar? No, I wouldn’t go online to abuse someone, and neither should you. Let’s look at rugby perspectives (or lack of it) for a moment.
My focus on Erasmus’ criticism of referees was more geared toward the 2021 Lions tour, rather than his more recent frustrations. This time around (after being warned of his conduct) Erasmus again released clips on social media criticizing Barnes. The South Africa Director of Rugby deemed Barnes to exhibit a lack of consistency and fairness.
Rugby perspectives (or lack of it) overview
Directing your ire
This article is not going to fully chastise Erasmus. However, he has to consider whether some of his comments act like a ‘dog whistle’ for the more unsavoury and unhinged members of the rugby fan fraternity. No, the strength of our full ire (in this writer’s opinion) should be directed elsewhere. That is, at the unfulfilled, no-mark saddos who think it’s ok to send vile threats. For the crime of doing his job. All the intimidation did from the safety and anonymity of their laptop or PC.
It is slightly perturbing how hard some people have gone in on Erasmus. Have they forgotten the concept of personal responsibility? We love to have a scapegoat and play the blame game in this day and age. If you want to engage in blaming and shaming, then how about going after the online trolls? One possible avenue is to ban the culprit’s accounts. Sure there are ways for the technologically savvy to get around having their IP address traced. Even so, Silicon Valley should at least be making these so-called rugby supporters’ online lives very difficult.
Anonymous trolls have a habit of popping up again and again. Let’s keep reminding them of how deeply idiotic they are. How can anyone in their right mind justify sending such vile threats? These are the actions of people who lack meaning in their lives. Desperate for some kind of reaction to alleviate their loneliness, unhappiness, and unfulfillment. Their rugby perspective (or lack of it) is there for all to see.
The positive route to take from this episode is to get behind Barnes and his family. Many have done this and hats off to them. Let’s show the trolls that their stupid outpourings aren’t the majority opinion within rugby. Barnes is an outstanding professional, a credit to the game, and seems to be a top bloke off the pitch too.
Rugby perspectives (or lack of it) summary
On Erasmus, he’s not the monster or instigator that some are making him out to be. He’s responsible for as much good, as he is bad in the world of rugby. He’s a free-thinker who many (players and fans) want to get behind. Therein lies the rub. Some easily led or manipulated individuals are following his lead blindly. This is because of a lack of their own personal identity or purpose. They also lack the ability to filter their own depraved thoughts and feelings. This writer is still a respecter and fan (with a small ‘F’) of Erasmus but he’s operating right on the edge. That’s an exhausting and lonely place to be.
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