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Gatland backs extra time call to avoid repeating 2017 series tie

By Liam Heagney

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Warren Gatland has suggested extra time should be allowed if this Saturday’s third and final Lions Test versus the Springboks ends in a draw at the end of normal time in Cape Town to avoid a repeat of the 2017 shared series with the All Blacks.

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Players and fans from both sides were left disappointed in Auckland four years after the deciding Test finished in a 15-all stalemate following Owen Farrell’s late penalty leveller and the decision by French referee Romain Poite to reverse his initial decision from the restart to give the All Blacks a penalty for a Ken Owens infringement.  

It resulted in the bizarre scene of respective skippers Sam Warburton and Kieran Read lifting the trophy together while both teams sat in on an unusual joint post-game team photograph. 

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Despite the gap of four years in between tours to take care of all business surrounding this latest Lions tour, there is no scope for extra time to be played by referee Mathieu Raynal if this weekend’s latest series decider is a draw at the end of 80 minutes.  

With this repeat stalemate in mind, Gatland has been quoted in the UK Telegraph saying he would like a change in the regulations before this Saturday’s game gets underway to ensure extra time can be played if needed. “Maybe that is something that someone can talk about over the next few days, about whether we do potentially go to extra time if it is a draw. That is not a bad idea.”

The original Lions tour agreement has undergone significant changes since the tourists arrived in South Africa with alterations to the match schedule and venues. But with relations with the Springboks now at an all-time low following last week’s Rassie Erasmus behaviour and also the South Africans claiming Gatland damaged the integrity of the tour with his TMO query, it is difficult to see both factions reaching an agreement to allow for extra time.

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There have been just two tied Lions series previously, in 1955 in South Africa and four years ago in New Zealand. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen described the 2017 tie as like “kissing your sister” while suggestions from Gatland that the Lions should reassemble that November to play the All Blacks in the UK in a fourth Test decider were ignored.  

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Gatland backs extra time call to avoid repeating 2017 series tie

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