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'Reckless': Warren Gatland has revisited de Klerk yellow card row

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

Warren Gatland has turned the heat up on the level of officiating on the Lions tour, agreeing that the Faf de Klerk yellow card incident in Cape Town would have been deemed red card play elsewhere. Within an hour of the midweek 17-13 loss to South Africa A, the Lions boss insisted at his post-game media briefing that contact was made by de Klerk’s shoulder to the head of Josh Navidi who he had latched onto the ball-carrying loosehead, Wyn Jones, near the try line in the first half.


Local South African referee Jaco Peyper judged the foul play worthy of just a yellow card, but Gatland expressed concern that contact had been made with the head of Navidi and it was an issue he revisited on Thursday after he unveiled an entirely changed starting XV to take the field this Saturday versus the Stormers.

Gatland was asked during his latest media briefing: “The Faf de Klerk yellow card, do you have any concerns about that because that might have been a red back at home?” The Lions boss replied: “I can’t understand when the comments were that there was no contact with the head.

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“Someone was watching a different picture to me. I agree. It looked reckless to me. No arms and it was definitely, he has hit the arm first and then the shoulder but there is definitely hit on the head contact. We have got a meeting with the referees tomorrow [Friday] just to get a little bit more clarity on that just so what we want is some clarity so that we get complete consistency.”

With the era of teams being able to cite opposition players for alleged foul play over, there is nothing the Lions can do about the de Klerk incident as that review responsibility would be the sole remit of Wednesday night’s match citing commissioner.

“The citing commissioner looks at those things so it will be interesting to see what the referees come back with and what other people that have looked at it come back with in terms of what the recommendations were for that incident.” Peyper will be the last South African referee the Lions will encounter on their tour as England’s Wayne Barnes is in charge of Saturday’s match versus the Stormers while the three-game Test series will be officiated by Nic Berry (Australia), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) and Mathieu Raynal (France).


Gatland had originally said post-game on Wednesday about the yellow-carded de Klerk tackle: “I definitely thought there was contact with the head on the Faf de Klerk one. The officials saw it differently and you have just got to roll with it really. In terms of that, they ended up down to 13 men. In that situation, they gave away a huge number of penalties. From myself reviewing I thought there was definitely head contact but he [the referee] has given a yellow card and you have got to accept that decision.”


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