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Gatland hits back after tweets from Erasmus over Farrell tackles

By Liam Heagney

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Lions boss Warren Gatland has responded to Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus taking to Twitter on Friday to criticise two Owen Farrell tackles from Wednesday night’s match versus South Africa A, a spat ignited by Gatland suggesting that a first-half yellow card for Faf de Klerk would probably have been a red card if the match was taking place in the UK.

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It looked reckless to me. No arms and he has hit the arm first and then the shoulder, but there is definitely head-on-head contact,” said Gatland about an incident where de Klerk clattered into Josh Navidi when the flanker was supporting the ball-carrying Wyn Jones near the South Africa A try line.

The incident was reviewed by referee Jaco Peyper and the TMO at the time and it resulted in a yellow card, but Gatland revisited the hot topic on Thursday, suggesting it should have been a red card and that he would be taking the debate up at a referees’ meeting on Friday.

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This prompted the peeved Erasmus into a salty online response, highlighting two Farrell tackles from the midweek game, the first on Jasper Wiese and then another on de Klerk. “While you are at it please get clarity on this also!! Penalty or play on? We have to be 100 per cent sure and aligned! Can’t agree more,” he tweeted, adding: “If there is time maybe also get absolute clarity and alignment on this one, please? I know it is way after the whistle, but let’s just align and get clarity to be sure.”

Gatland addressed the Erasmus tweets in a TV interview just prior to the kick-off in Saturday’s game against the Stormers, the Lions boss telling Sky Sports: “It was a bit surprising going to Twitter and that. Look, you have got to accept things. I have gone through the channels, asking the referees for some clarity on that.

“They thought it was a yellow card and I accept that decision. There was a couple of other shots that we had picked up and asked to have them have a look at those, what decision would have been made if they had have seen those, so it was a little bit surprising but it adds to the occasion and adds to the atmosphere or the tension that is building up before the Test series.”

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Former Lions boss Ian McGeechan described the spat between Gatland and Erasmus as noise. “It’s definitely mind games and it is definitely worth reiterating that the psychology is there to try and get one over on each other and just maybe put some thoughts in referees’ heads and so on,” he said. “It’s noise and it takes things away from the players, which is a good thing as well.”

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Gatland hits back after tweets from Erasmus over Farrell tackles

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