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Gatland fuming with World Rugby over Erasmus misconduct statement

By Liam Heagney

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Lions boss Warren Gatland has got the hump with World Rugby following the statement the governing body issued in conjunction with the announcement that Rassie Erasmus and South Africa Rugby will face a misconduct hearing for comments regarding match official performance during the three-game Test series which reaches its conclusion this Saturday in Cape Town.


A part of the Monday evening statement claimed: “Having conducted a full review of all the available information, World Rugby is concerned that individuals from both teams have commented on the selection and/or performance of match officials.”

This allegation that the Lions had been critical of the officiats grated with Gatland when quizzed on Tuesday about the Erasmus misconduct charge, the Lions boss insisting the only time the officials were ever mentioned by his side was when World Rugby was asked why its contingency plan hadn’t allowed for a neutral TMO after Kiwi Brendon Pickerill was replaced by South African Marius Jonker because of travel restrictions.

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Graham Henry on how the Lions must play to win their series versus the Springboks
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Graham Henry on how the Lions must play to win their series versus the Springboks

“There has been so much said about that kind of stuff,” bemoaned Gatland at the Tuesday media briefing that followed the announcement of a third Test Lions XV showing six changes from the team beaten 27-9 last Saturday. “The only thing I am disappointed in World Rugby’s statement is that I felt they have inadvertently dragged us into it. 

“We have tried to maintain as much integrity as we can in terms of we haven’t been commenting on refereeing, we never questioned the integrity of the TMO. The only question we asked is why hadn’t World Rugby put a contingency plan in place if people couldn’t travel or if people had got sick. 

“That was the only question that we had asked. So yeah, really, really disappointed with a part of the statement where they said both sides have been making comments and been critical of the officials. I’d like someone to show me where we have done that because we have looked through everything and we can’t see any instances where we have been critical of the officials. In fact, I think we gave praised the officials.”


Gatland was speaking after naming a bench that included Kyle Sinckler subject to the outcome of the disciplinary hearing that commenced on Tuesday morning and was still ongoing three-and-a-half hours later when the Lions boss fronted the media virtually. The sub tighthead was cited for an alleged bite of Franco Mostert in last Saturday’s match.  

“That is being dealt with at the moment,” said Gatland. “He [Sinckler] has denied it and we are waiting to hear the decision. Sometimes those things happen. There is nothing clear in any video evidence I have looked at so we will just wait and see what comes back after the hearing.  

“I haven’t spoken to him. He had a hearing that started at nine o’clock this morning and it’s still going so we are waiting to see the result of that.”



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