Lions defence coach: Officials did a really good job

Lions defence coach Steve Tandy has responded to Rassie Erasmus highlighting some dubious refereeing decisions made by saying he feels the officials did a good job this past weekend.

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Tandy hit back at Erasmus, who took to Twitter to express his frustration over some contentious refereeing decisions, suggesting the Springboks’ director of rugby should go through the appropriate channels.

“It’s his viewpoint, we thought the officials did a really good job on the weekend, if there’s anything we need to bring up we’ll go through the appropriate channels.

“We have just got to look at ourselves and what we do, at the end of the day we need to do our talking on the field. Rassie’s comments are his own comments, but for us its just about focusing on what we are, what we need to tidy up and that we’re nice and clean in how we go about things.”

The Test series has thus far been characterised by a war of words between the two opposing camps. In the lead-up to the first Test, Lions coach Warren Gatland publicly questioned the impartiality of TMO Marius Joubert. A stunt which many could point out was not exactly conducted through the ‘appropriate channels’, either.

Tandy, nonetheless, maintains that the refereeing team got the important decisions correct and that is what fans and coaches should be focusing on, as opposed to the ostensibly less-important mistakes.

“It’s the major calls you want to get right and spend the appropriate time on. It’s hard for the officials, there’s so much going on – Rassie’s come out and said some things about their performances on the weekend and a few bits and pieces missed, but every team has those moments.

“Every team could go through micro-details and analyse it, we do it ourselves, but I think it’s then about going through the appropriate channels and raising the ones that are relevant and not making about every small detail.”

Asked whether the Lions were expecting a Boks response, Tandy said the team was under no illusions they would be eager to bounce back.

“South Africa, at the end of the day, are world champions; you don’t win World Cups from not being able to recover from things. We know how much of a physical team they are and how much pride they’ve got.

“So, ultimately it’s just about us looking at ourselves and seeing where we can improve. We know South Africa are going to bring physicality, we know they’re a smart rugby team. For us, it’s about looking at ourselves and seeing where we can improve.

“There’s bits and pieces from everyone that we can tidy up, where we are as a squad at the moment there’s competition right across the board. The second-half performance of the group shows us where we can get to and ultimately we’ll speak more about that tonight [in the selection meeting].”

Discipline will no doubt continue to be a defining feature of the Test series. Tandy feels that for the Lions it is simply about controlling the controllables, as they did in the second half of the first Test.

“At half time the boys were really calm, we gave away a couple of cheap penalties in the first half that we didn’t need to and we just talked about how we can impose ourselves by being smart.

“The officials did a really good job and the balance of power changed for us in terms of the penalty count by us looking after what we can look after.

“In physical and intense Test matches, there are absolute fine margins in lots of things, and we definitely got that right in the second half.”