Springbok conditioning coach Neels Liebel has launched an outburst against Paddy O'Brien that may land him and SARU in hot water with the International Rugby Board.
According to the SuperSport website, Liebel allegedly claimed on Facebook that IRB manager of referees, O'Brien, had already won the World Cup for New Zealand.
Liebel, who - like the rest of the Bok management team - has been back in SA since last week, after South Africa's quarterfinal loss to the Wallabies, posted on Facebook: "Thank you Paddy O'Brain (sic), you won the World Cup for New Zealand. Give the Boks a Kiwi ref and the Aussies v NZ a SA ref. A set up for Kiwi success…"
Liebel's angry vent is an ill-advised one, as the IRB don't take lightly to such remarks by people involved in the tournament - as Samoa centre Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu found out after his various tirades on Twitter during, and after, the World Cup.
All teams - including management and players - signed up to terms of participation for the World Cup, which has a section on dealing with the media and includes social media. These terms run for the course of the tournament rather than merely the length of time a team is involved.
While the IRB are yet to release any official statement regarding their reaction to Liebel's comments, but there could be trouble for both him and SARU.
Last year Springbok coach Peter de Villiers spoke out about supposed conspiracy theories, suggesting that the Boks had been victims of a plan to assist the All Blacks ahead of the World Cup the following year.
Following South Africa's first two Tri-Nations defeats to New Zealand in 2010, De Villiers insinuated that the All Blacks were aided by referees to help swell Kiwi World Cup excitement.
In 2009 an IRB disciplinary hearing imposed a fine of £10,000 (ZAR113,000) on SARU, after the Springboks wore white armbands during the third Test against the British & Irish Lions as a protest for Bakkies Botha's suspension.
Botha had received a two-week suspension for a dangerous charge on Lions prop Adam Jones at the side of a ruck, which had not gone down well in the Bok camp.
At the time the IRB made it clear that had it not been for the "legal technicalities", SARU, the Springbok players and their management would have faced much more serious sanctions for their protest.
The sanctions could have gone as far as to impose a suspension of the Springboks' participation in the World Cup in New Zealand.
The most recent rant from Liebel may well open up some of these old wounds and could spell trouble for SARU and, of course, the Bok conditioning coach.
By Timmy Hancox
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