Warren Gatland furious as a South African TMO is appointed for first Lions Test

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British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland, pictured, is understood to be angry with the appointment of a South African Television Match Official for the first Test match against the Springboks (David Rogers) (PA Wire)
British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland, pictured, is understood to be angry with the appointment of a South African Television Match Official for the first Test match against the Springboks (David Rogers) (PA Wire)

Warren Gatland is understood to be furious that South AfricanMarius Jonker has been appointed as Television Match Official for the British and Irish Lions’ first Test against the Springboks.

Lions boss Gatland was left fuming that there could be no neutral TMO for Saturday’s series opener against South Africa, the PA news agency understands.

New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill was forced to withdraw due to pandemic-related travel issues.

The Lions are understood to be pushing governing body World Rugby to appoint a neutral TMO for the second and third Tests of the series.

World Rugby used ‘home’ TMOs in last year’s Rugby Championship, but a referee would not officiate in a match involving their own country.

South African official Jonker acted as the TMO for the Lions’ 17-13 defeat to South Africa A, the tourists’ sole loss on tour so far.

Gatland was left frustrated that Springboks scrum-half Faf de Klerk avoided a red card for a tackle on Lions flanker Josh Navidi.

The Lions boss had been aiming to seek clarity over the incident with officials, stating last week: “I can’t understand where the comments were that there was no contact to the head.

“Someone was watching a different picture to me. I thought it looked reckless.

“No arms and he’s hit the arm first and then the shoulder, but there’s definitely head-on-head contact.”

South Africa rugby director Rassie Erasmus responded to Gatland’s critique of De Klerk by tweeting footage of what he considered dangerous tackles by Lions fly-half Owen Farrell.

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