VIDEO: Gatland compromised the integrity of the game
WATCH Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick adds his voice to the RassieGate saga.
It is clear the war of words between the South African and British and Irish Lions camps will not subside anytime soon.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Stick stated the integrity of the Test series between the Springboks and the B&I Lions was compromised when coach Warren Gatland raised questions around the appointment of South African TMO Marius Jonker in the first Test.
The B&I Lions boss, Gatland, suggested in interviews with British media outlets that Jonker will not be able to maintain neutrality.
Jonker was appointed TMO for the three-Test series after New Zealander Brendon Pickerill could not travel to South Africa due to the COVID-19 travel restriction and no suitable alternative could be found.
Stick was asked for his comment in the wake of the outcry over an hour-long video, created by South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, in which the numerous mistakes and disrespectful behaviour of matcn officials in the first Test were highlighted.
In the 62-minute video, which includes 26 clips, Erasmus highlighted the officiating inconsistencies of Australian referee Nic Berry during the Springboks’ 17-22 fist Test defeat to the B&I Lions at Cape Town Stadium.
Stick said the Boks are backing Erasmus’ decision to go public with the team’s frustrations and added that the entire series was already compromised.
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“When you recap to the first test, the integrity of World Rugby was challenged by another human being [Warren Gatland], when Jonker was appointed the TMO,” Stick said.
“Gatland went crazy and challenged World Rugby about the decision they had made.
“Everybody knows we are living in challenging times, living during [the] COVID [pandemic] and the other gentleman [Pickerill] could not travel to South Africa because of the COVID protocols.
“He [Gatland] publicly challenged the decisions and still to this day he never apologised for his statement, neither did World Rugby addressed it.
“As the Bok management, we are not asking any favours – we just want equality.
“This series is 12 years in the making, so I wouldn’t want this to be what’s overriding the event.”
Stick emphasised that during this time with COVID-19 everything said on social media or at a press conference carries the same weight.
Thus, what Erasmus released via social media and what Gatland said during a press conference are similar.
Stick added that both should not go unpunished should Erasmus get fined by World rugby.
“Everything that is being said in social media or a traditional media conference, it is still the media.
“All coaches want to get their message across.
“So if Rassie got into trouble because of what he said on social media, I think the gentleman that challenged the integrity of the game should also be punished.
“Not only did he destroy the dignity of the series, he also challenged the integrity of World Rugby.”
The Bok assistant coach added that Erasmus’ comments were his own personal view and it had nothing to with the team.
Switching his focus back to the must-win match, the second Test on Saturday, Stick said: “We are in a good space.
“We analyse our game and had a great training week.
“We are professions and look forward to the test on Saturday.”