Warren Gatland shuts down South African reporter after question on referee calls
Left him in no doubts.
Ahead of the First Test between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions, Warren Gatland put the word out that the tourists were not happy with a big Television Match Official decision.
New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill had been lined up for T.M.O but, due to Covid travel restrictions, he could not travel to South Africa to fulfil the posting.
Pickerill not being available saw South African official Marius Jonker called in to take up the role, and Robin McBryde expressed the Lions' dissatisfaction at the pre-match press conference.
That, inevitably, led to a raft of headlines and news bulletins. The merits of the Jonker call are still up for debate, but the Lions were eager to let the wider rugby world know a local would be on T.M.O duty.
Lions fans may have fretted over Jonker making home-town decisions, but Springboks supporters were equally worried the South African would over-compensate in the other direction, and side with the tourists.
As it turned out, there were three South African tries scored in the second half and ALL of them went to the T.M.O. Only one of them, for Faf de Klerk, stood but scores for Willie Le Roux and Damian De Allende were chalked off. This was despite Australian referee Nic Berry ruling that all three were on-field tries.
The De Allende score was rightly ruled out, as Cheslin Kolbe had knocked on, but the Le Roux 'no try' came after a borderline call, as Jonker told Berry the Springboks fullback was slightly ahead of the grubber kick through. There was also the matter of Hamish Watson getting away with a yellow card for a tip tackle on Le Roux, which left the Bok star injured.
As it turned out, that overturned try was crucial as the Lions went on to win 22-17. Following the game, Gatland was asked about those crucial calls, and whether the Lions had got the lucky breaks. The question was posed by Sport24 reporter Khanyiso Tshwaku.
TSHWAKU: I know it's easy to speak when you're on the winning side, but do you feel that you got some of the decisions from Nic Berry did sway it toward the Lions?
The pause as the Kiwi weighed up the question, chewed it up and spat it out was pure Gatland.
As for the South Africans, they were not entirely happy with some of the calls that went against them, but they were not banging the table in protest.
"Our discipline wasn't good enough in the second half," admitted Springboks' head coach Jacques Nienaber, "but the situation is salvageable in the last two Tests against the Lions."
"I completely trust the officials, that is their jobs, they are the professionals in that field," he added.
"They are in a better position and have many angles to look at. Sometimes these calls go against you, as we found out today. In the second half we had three try scoring opportunities, twice we were called back. Those is the small margins in this game."
LISTEN TO HOUSE OF RUGBY'S LIONS SERIES: EPISODE 6