VIDEO: Referees takes centre stage in Test build-up
Nic Berry, Ben O’Keeffe and Mathieu Raynal have just been thrust to the forefront in the battle between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions.
The three-Test series gets underway at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The B&I Lions coach Warren Gatland turned up the furnace when he said he will take along ‘video clips’ to his regular get-together with match officials.
Australian referee Nic Berry will be in charge of the opening Test, with New Zealander Ben O’Keeffe and Frenchman Mathieu Raynal taking charge of matches two and three at the same venue.
Gatland confirmed he had “good” debriefings with the referees in the earlier tour matches and was confident of having similar ‘success’ this week.
“We are just looking at getting consistency in terms of the calls being made,” Gatland said in the build-up to Saturday’s opening Test.
As part of the process, they also showed the referee some clips to get some “clarity” on aspects of the Springboks’ game.
“It is an important meeting for us – getting clarity about the way they [the Test referees] have seen us from afar and the messages we have gotten from the match officials in the warm-up matches,” the B&I Lions coach said.
Pascal Gaüzère (France), AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Jaco Peyper (South Africa) and Wayne Barnes (England) were the referees in the warm-up matches.
(Article continues below …)
* In another intriguing twist to the plot Alain Rolland – World Rugby’s former Head of Match Officials – took a swipe at South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus over his role as a ‘water boy’ for the national team.
Erasmus first came under the spotlight when Gatland highlighted the SA Rugby boss’ involvement with the Boks during the SA ‘A’ team win (17-13) over the B&I Lions last Wednesday.
“Last [Wednesday] night he was a water boy and running onto the pitch,” Gatland said, adding: “The thing is, if you are the water boy, running onto the pitch, you have to make sure you are carrying water.
“I didn’t quite understand what his role was.
“You don’t run onto the pitch giving messages and stuff without carrying the water.
“My advice to him is: ‘Make sure you are carrying water’ the next time he does that.”
The B&I Lions coach was supported by Irish-born Rolland, who told the UK-based Daily Mail Erasmus should not be allowed to act as a water boy.
“He is the head coach in everything but name and the Springboks exploiting this loophole doesn’t sit comfortably with me,” the former refereeing boss said.
“The regulations state that head coaches are not allowed in the technical zone,” Rolland added.
“The loophole here is that Erasmus does not carry the title of head coach.
“I’ve got no doubt that it’s been raised this week and will get looked at by World Rugby.
“It may be very difficult to stop because technically South Africa are not breaking the protocol.
“If South Africa are able to prove that he’s not the head coach, there may not be an awful lot of action that can be taken in such a short period of time.
“It’s hard to change these things on the hoof.
“There’s normally a protocol to change a protocol. Even if they want to do something about it, they may have to wait until November!”
* Additional reporting by Daily Mail