South Africa double down on Rassie Erasmus’ criticism of referees with captain Siya Kolisi insisting he ‘didn’t feel respected’ in first Test… while the Boks also accuse Lions coach Warren Gatland of ‘destroying the dignity of the series’
- South Africa have exploded the power keg build-up to the second Lions Test
- Siya Kolisi has claimed he did not feel respected in the first Test in Cape Town
- The Springboks chose to double down on Rassie Erasmus’ criticism of referees
- Erasmus claimed that Kolisi was not shown the same respect as Alun Wyn Jones
The Lions will seek to clinch a historic Test series triumph in Cape Town on Saturday amid heightened tension and turmoil, after being accused by South Africa of ‘destroying the dignity’ of the event.
Warren Gatland’s side can take an unassailable 2-0 lead if they beat the Springboks, who ramped up hostilities on Friday.
The hosts accused their British and Irish opponents of undermining the officials and the sport’s governing body, while continuing to do so themselves — prompting a fresh wave of criticism.
South Africa captain Siya Kolisi has insisted he did not feel ‘respected’ in the first Lions Test
Kolisi believes he wasn’t afforded the same access to referee Nic Berry as Alun Wyn Jones
Following wild claims of injustice in an hour-long video rant by Rassie Erasmus, the world champions’ director of rugby, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi maintained the onslaught.
Asked if he felt last Saturday’s referee, Nic Berry of Australia, had not shown him sufficient respect, as Erasmus argued, the flanker said: ‘I didn’t feel respected at all. I didn’t feel I was given a fair opportunity.
‘I’m looking forward to a new game and a new referee. I think Ben (O’Keeffe, Saturday’s referee from New Zealand) will give a fair opportunity for both captains. That’s all we’re asking.’
When pressed on how he felt disrespected, Kolisi added: ‘Did you watch the video? Watch it. I didn’t feel I was given the same access to the referee and there is proof if you watch the game again. You will definitely be able to see.
‘It has happened and there is nothing I can do about it.’
Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus launched into an hour-long rant at World Rugby
His video went through 30 decisions Erasmus feels went against South Africa last Saturday
Instead of adopting a more conciliatory tone, the Springboks went on the offensive.
Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick took aim at the Lions, saying: ‘Firstly, the integrity of World Rugby was challenged when Marius Jonker was appointed TMO, then someone on the other side was challenging them about the decision.
‘That was publicly challenged by a coach on the other side. I haven’t heard any statement from his side apologising about it.
‘We are not asking for any favours. We just want equal ground. Both coaches wanted to get their messages across.
‘The gentleman that challenged the integrity of the game when the TMO was challenged; that is something that really destroyed the dignity of the series, and it also challenges the integrity of World Rugby.’
Sportsmail understands Erasmus will continue in his water-boy role on Saturday in Cape Town
The global governing body are now under pressure to take action, although Erasmus is due to be on duty on Saturday, continuing his role as a pitch-side water-carrier.
His attack on Berry drew a stinging riposte from Rugby Australia, who said: ‘There is no place for abuse of match officials.’
Their chief executive, Andy Marinos, added: ‘The attack on Nic’s integrity, character and reputation is unacceptable. We have been in contact with World Rugby and understand that they are actively reviewing this matter.
‘It is important to ensure public attacks of this nature are not tolerated.’
While the Boks went on the offensive, the Lions were in charm-offensive mode, with full back Stuart Hogg saying: ‘In the short time I’ve been Scotland captain, Ben O’Keeffe has been one of the best referees I’ve had to deal with. Referees have a huge amount of respect from us as players.’
Robin McBryde, the Lions’ forwards coach, added: ‘Ben is a top man and we are looking forward to working with him on Saturday.’
Warren Gatland was accused of destroying the dignity of the series ahead of the second Test