Rassie Erasmus says the Boks desperately sought feedback over officiating queries in order to ensure they could have that clarity in mind during training ahead of the second Test. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Following the Springboks’ narrow defeat by the British & Irish Lions this past Saturday, there has been plenty of talk about the officiating and several inconsistencies which emerged.
Perhaps the most common consensus is related to the fact that Hamish Watson was extremely fortunate to not be yellow-carded for a tip tackle on Willie le Roux.
Erasmus also took to Twitter to highlight a video in which Cheslin Kolbe was played in the air, lands on his back, and is then lifted to his feet by Lions prop Mako Vunipola before medical staff intervened.
South Africa’s director of rugby called the action of the England front rower, who came off the bench in the second half, “reckless and dangerous”.
On Tuesday, Erasmus also elaborated on his decision to highlight such an incident on social media.
“As director of rugby, the medical department is also part of that role and we have the BokSmart programme aimed at player safety,” he commented.
“I just thought the way Cheslin was picked up off the ground while on the ground was dangerous considering he could have been injured.
“We teach our primary school children from any age-group level to leave a player alone if they are injured, and we wouldn’t want our Springbok players to go and start picking up Lions players this weekend if they are lying on their back injured. So, I just felt it was an important one to get out there.”
In response to the Twitter posts, Gatland said on Tuesday that it was all just part of a “sideshow” while, when speaking to reporters on Monday, Lions assistant coach Steve Tandy said Erasmus should rather take his complaints to officials.
“We thought the officials did a good job at the weekend and if there is anything we need to bring up we will go through the appropriate channels,” Tandy stressed.
“We worry about what we do and do our talking on the field. The comments of Rassie are his, while we focus on what we need to fix to make sure we are nice and clean about how we go about things.”
With those comments in mind, Erasmus was asked at the media briefing on Tuesday about whether the Boks had explored those channels of communication, which he said they had – albeit with somewhat belated feedback.
“Unfortunately that takes a bit of time, we tried to do it on Sunday, but they didn’t come back to us on Sunday or Monday. It came through on Tuesday, so it can take some time to get the full report. When you only get it on Tuesday, it can be a bit disruptive to your week because Monday’s training was already done.
“We wanted to look at things that we need to rectify, and tactics we want to employ, so that’s why we tried to make contact on Sunday to get some guidance on clips we’d sent through. Unfortunately their process, which they said is the same as the Six Nations, is to provide feedback on Tuesday. We’re working through it and then will look to implement some of things we’ve learned at training.
“We’re trying to find out from World Rugby exactly about some decisions we got wrong during the game, and some things we could have done differently,” Erasmus added. “That’s what we’re focusing on a hell of a lot. Feedback was a little slow and we are trying to incorporate that in training.”