Lions assistant coach: There’s a reason why TMO should be neutral

British & Irish Lions assistant coach Robin McBryde has suggested the tourists were left exasperated by the “lack of foresight” from World Rugby after having to appoint South African Marius Jonker as the series TMO.

Originally, New Zealand official Brendon Pickerill was set to serve as the Television Match Official, but he had to pull out due to travel disruption caused by Covid-19.

It’s said that World Rugby’s contingency plan had to be local officials, and so Jonker will now fulfil this role.

READ: Lions coach infuriated by South African TMO appointment

On Friday, McBryde insisted there was complete confidence in all four match officials and that there would be a “clean slate”, but didn’t shy away from having a dig at World Rugby’s lack of forward thinking.

“It was a bit unexpected. We only found out on Wednesday,” McBryde said. “There’s a slight like lack of foresight because there’s a reason why that position is neutral. There’s no plan B put in place. You’ve just got to get on with it really.”

Jonker was the TMO when scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was yellow-carded for a high tackle in the game between SA A and the Lions, but Gatland suggested it should have been a red card that came with a potential suspension.

McBryde stated that they had now moved on from this after discussing it at the meeting with the officials.

“We met the three officials who were officiating on the weekend. We went through everything that’s happened up to date. They’re reluctant to pass any opinion on what’s happened.

“They’re aware of it and they’re confident in the comms they’ll have on the weekend that between the four of them [they will] come to the right decision. The role in the TMO, his say is pretty final with regards to communication between him and the referee. It is a very important position. I’m sure there will be no issues on the weekend.

“It’s very much a clean slate. There’s consistency between the referees, that’s what they’re aiming for. We had a good discussion in and around a lot of things that have happened to date.

“But the impression I got really was that they wanted to move on and that they trust in their own decisions and communications and the understanding between the three of them, so hopefully that will come to the fore on the weekend.”

Saturday’s match between the Boks and Lions kicks off at 6pm and will be broadcast live on SuperSport. Nic Berry of Australia has been appointed as referee for this Test, with Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) and Mathieu Raynal (France) assisting him on the sidelines.

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Craig Lewis