Warren Gatland has demanded World Rugby bosses take action against Rassie Erasmus as the fallout from his astonishing video rant continued after the Springboks crushed the Lions 27-9 to level the series.
Tempers boiled over on and off the pitch as the world champions produced a stunning second-half fightback in Cape Town — before the Lions coach took a swipe at Boks’ director of rugby Erasmus.
Gatland, clearly rattled by Erasmus’ hour-long video tirade against officials last week, said: ‘Hopefully World Rugby does look at that. I think that’s important. We do press conferences and try to give feedback and information, and we deal with the referees through World Rugby. That’s the process.’
Warren Gatland aimed a dig at Rassie Erasmus after the Lions were defeated in the second Test
The Springbok director of rugby released an hour-long rant on the officiating in the first match
Gatland insisted he did not want to get involved in a ‘war of words’ with South African rugby’s top man, preferring to focus on picking up his side after Saturday’s Cape Town capitulation.
The Lions, 9-6 up at half time courtesy of three Dan Biggar penalties, were blown away after the break, conceding 21 unanswered second-half points.
But Gatland added: ‘I hope it doesn’t get to a situation where we end up with things on Twitter, and people airing their views in that way and not through the proper channels.
‘I found it quite strange that that approach was taken, but it is definitely not something that I will get involved in. It is important that we keep the integrity in the game as much as we possibly can.
Erasmus was back on the pitch during the second Test as he continued his water-carrying role
‘There’s been enough said. I won’t be going on social media this week and I don’t really want to comment on that because I want to let other people take care of that.
‘The last thing we need is a war of words and being accused of doing certain things.
‘We will keep things to ourselves and go through the proper channels when we talk with the referee after reviewing the game and then hopefully get some feedback from him and us give them some feedback as well.’
Sir Clive Woodward backed Gatland’s call for action.
Sir Clive was incensed that Erasmus, in his other role as South Africa’s water carrier, was allowed to enter the pitch whenever there were breaks in play.
‘You can’t have it both ways Rassie, you are either a water boy or you are director rugby and a member of the Boks coaching and backroom staff,’ raged Sir Clive. ‘You can’t ride both horses.’
Cheslin Kolbe was fortunate to stay on the pitch after taking out Conor Murray in the air
‘It is totally inappropriate and contrary to guidelines for Rassie Erasmus to come onto the pitch in his yellow bib – with no water bottle – as he does time and time again when there is a break in play and a big decision pending.
‘World Rugby need to step in immediately to act on this.
‘In his role as director of rugby, I don’t really object to him making his points about the officials in midweek. But he needs to decide what his job title is.’
Gatland will want feedback from the officials on the yellow card handed to Springboks wing Cheslin Kolbe after he took Conor Murray out in the air, an incident that prompted one of several fights between players and pundits demanding a red card.
‘I’m not going to comment on the referee’s decisions,’ said Gatland.
The winger was shown a yellow card by Ben O’Keeffe but many felt it should have been a red
‘We’ll have our meeting with the referees and see what happens. It didn’t look great from where I was, but he went with a yellow card.’
Gatland admitted he couldn’t put his finger on just why the Lions, who won the first Test 22-17, had subsided so meekly after the interval in the Second Test. ‘We were happy at half-time,’ the New Zealander said. ‘Second half, we didn’t get anything. No momentum or opportunity to play.
‘Kick returns were disappointing. They got a lot of penalties. We were happy with the first half. We felt we’d carried well but we didn’t achieve that at all in the second-half. The players are disappointed, but next week’s a cup final. There’s things we have to tidy up.
Lukhanyo Am’s try was awarded despite there being some contention over the grounding
‘The South African players put a lot of emotion into that.’
Gatland is immediately under pressure to make changes for the decider with calls for England star Owen Farrell to start.
‘It’s very early on,’ said Gatland. ‘The game’s only just finished. We’ll do a proper review on whether we need to make changes. I was happy with the first half but we didn’t get anything in the second half to create momentum.
‘The game was very slow and they did a good job slowing it down. It was frustrating to get that rhythm.’