BOILING POINT: Tensions rise ahead of Lions’ first Test against South Africa as both sides trade verbal blows… as tourists heap pressure on TMO official Marius Jonker while hosts hit back at Warren Gatland’s ‘egos’ jibe
- The Lions and South Africa have traded verbal blows before Saturday’s first Test
- Warren Gatland’s Lions are complaining about home official Marius Jonker
- Jonker is Saturday’s TMO official but his son is a team-mate of Springbok stars
- Gatland also spoke about ‘denting the egos’ of South Africa’s players this week
The Lions heaped pressure on home official Marius Jonker on Friday while South Africa mocked the tourists as the build-up to the first Test reached boiling point.
Warren Gatland’s British and Irish squad go into their series opener against the world champions on Saturday evening amid rising tensions.
The Lions are angry that Jonker, whose son Rynhardt is a team-mate of several Springbok players, has been hurriedly installed as the television match official (TMO) for all three Tests, after Kiwi Brendon Pickerill was unable to travel.
The Lions heaped pressure on Marius Jonker, who will officiate the first Test with South Africa
Jonker is the TMO official but his son Rynhardt is a team-mate of several Springbok players
The last-minute loss of officiating neutrality for such a momentous rugby event has caused unrest and Robin McBryde, the Lions forwards coach, said: ‘It was a bit unexpected. We only found out on Wednesday. There’s a slight lack of foresight because there’s a reason why that position is neutral.’
Jonker failed to recommend a red card for Faf de Klerk’s high tackle on Josh Navidi when the Lions lost to South Africa A last week.
And McBryde added: ‘The TMO’s say is pretty final with regards to communication with the referee. It is a very important position. Communication is a big thing, especially from a mauling point of view, where we were penalised on a couple of occasions in that A game.’
Jonker did not reommend a red card for Springbok Faf de Klerk (second left) for a high tackle on Lions’ Josh Navidi last week
The Lions’ concerns were dismissed by the Springbok camp. Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said: ‘We don’t appoint the officials, that’s a job for World Rugby.
‘One thing I know for sure is that those guys are all professional and respect that job. It doesn’t affect us. If they have a problem with that, they can have a chat with World Rugby.’
Gatland’s claim that his side’s forward power against South Africa A served to ‘dent the egos’ of the Boks was met with incredulity by Stick, who added: ‘The most important stat from that game was the final score. We won, so I’m not too sure what it is that they dented.
‘If he is talking about egos, he doesn’t really know much about us as South Africans. Let’s wait and see after the game.’
Warren Gatland claimed that the Lions’ forward power against South Africa A ‘dented the egos’