Gatland angered after South Africa appointed Marius Juncker Lions Test series TMO | British and Irish black
Warren Gatland was furious ahead of the British and Irish Lions’ first test against Springboks on Saturday after he was told that South African Marius Juncker had been appointed as the series’ television match official.
Gatland is said to be raging and there has been no neutral alternative available for such a high-profile event following the withdrawal of the original TMO – New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill – due to travel disruption linked to the pandemic. Lions are also understood to be surprised that they were only informed on Wednesday about the appointment.
Jonker was TMO’s only previous Lions defeat on the tour – by South Africa A – In consultation with referee Jaco Bieber, he chose not to send off Pfaff de Klerk due to a dangerous interference with Josh Navidi.
Gatland was convinced his red card was justified and was planning to seek clarification on the decision. “I can’t understand where the comments were that there was no head contact,” Gatland said last week. “Someone was watching a different picture to me. I thought it looked reckless. Armless and hit his arm first and then the shoulder, but there is definitely head-on-head contact.”
Juncker – whose son Reinhardt plays for the Sharks with a number of Springboks – will be familiar to England fans after they… The late Sam Underhill banned try in A narrow defeat from New Zealand In November 2018. Courtney Luz, who will start with the Lions against South Africa on the blind wing, was sentenced for offside in the match, denying Eddie Jones’ side a famous win.
Gatland had already expressed concern that a player in the sin box or being sent off could play an important role in determining the outcome of the tests and was due to meet Saturday match referee Nick Perry on Thursday.
In 2017, the red card worked in favor of the black when Sonny Bill Williams has been fired for a serious tackle on Anthony Watson in the second Test in Wellington, which the traveling side went on to win by narrow margin and the series box. Speaking on Wednesday after shooting his 15th, Gatland said: “The last thing we want from a Lions’ perspective is a test match that has been set on someone who makes a really bad decision – going in with a shoulder, tackling too high a yellow card or a red card.”
World Rugby, which appoints match officials for all Tests, insisted the contingency plan was always a local alternative and referred to TMO “home” during last year’s Rugby Championships. Given the enormity of the Lions’ first Test against South Africa in 12 years, however, and its billing as the biggest match of the year so far, Gatland was left baffled by this decision.
Meanwhile, Perry and his officials will keep an eye on Rasi Erasmus if he continues to perform waterborne duties against the lions. Former World Rugby Chief Referee Alan Rowland said a South African rugby manager should not be allowed to act as a water carrier and therefore be able to enter the field and pass messages on to his players.
It is understood that global rugby legislation only states that head coaches cannot be field side, and that Covid regulations allow more water carriers. But it is up to the match officials to monitor the behavior of the water carriers. Gatland had taken up the issue after Erasmus – who was the head coach of the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup win – played the role in the defeat to South Africa A but global rugby regulations dictate that only head coaches can do so.