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Lions boss Gatland takes potshot at no-water water boy Erasmus

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Lions boss Warren Gatland has questioned what his Springboks counterpart Rassie Erasmus was up to on Wednesday night, wearing a water boy bib and going onto the Cape Town pitch to deliver messages rather than water which is what someone wearing the H2O garment is supposed to do. Head coaches and directors of rugby usually sit in the grandstand surrounded by their main assistant coaches as well as TVs showing match footage and laptops delivering a wealth of statistical information. 


However, while Gatland occupied his usual Lions matchday perch, watching developments unfold from up in the stands, Erasmus was directing the South Africa A team operations from the touchline and entering the field of play during breaks.

Gatland initially touched on the Erasmus antics when speaking at his post-game media briefing on Wednesday night. “It’s a little bit interesting. You won’t see me doing that. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. A little bit strange that the director of rugby of South Africa being also a water boy.”

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The Lions boss then revisited the unusual situation at his media briefing on Thursday that accompanied the announcement of the entirely changed starting team that will play the Stormers on Saturday.

“Last night he is a water boy and running on the pitch. I think if you are the water boy carrier running onto the pitch you have got to make sure you are carrying water. I didn’t understand what his role was. You don’t run onto the pitch giving messages and stuff if you are the water boy without carrying the water. My advice is to make sure he is carrying water the next time he does that.”

Gatland’s barb over the water was an indication of the rivalry creeping into the build-up ahead of the three-game Test series which begins in Cape Town on July 24. Erasmus accused the Lions of running scared earlier this week when Gatland turned down the suggestion that his squad should face South Africa A a second time this Saturday rather than play the Stormers as scheduled. “I just think he was trying to wind us up by saying we were scared which is he is sometimes capable of doing,” said Gatland dismissed the notion that the Lions, beaten 17-13 by South Africa A, are in a spot of bother heading into the Test series.  


“No (not scared). Pretty excited about it,” he retorted. “It was a physical game, it is going to be physical. We will be pretty pumped for next week so we have got to start well. We know what is coming and I thought they [South Africa] will have some pretty sore bodies today. We showed that our maul defence, we scrummed exceptionally well. 

“I thought some of our pick and go stuff they probably weren’t expecting that gave us an opportunity to work on those sort of things and from an attacking perspective we probably weren’t as clinical as we will be but there were opportunities out there that we left behind. That will give us some things to work on for this weekend and for next week and I thought we looked really strong in that second half. We looked fit and that is a real positive for us. The guys were pretty bullish in the changing room afterwards thinking we can win this series.” 



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