Alain Rolland has hit out at Rassie Erasmus’ “appalling” criticism of the officiating of the first test between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions.
There has been much debate about the performance of referee Nic Berry in the first test, mostly from the South African side, which has dominated the build-up to today’s second test with the Lions.
Former referee Rolland was writing in his column for the Daily Mail and argued that Erasmus is using “cheap” tactics to take the pressure of himself and his players.
As we edge closer towards kick-off, here’s kick-off time across the 🌎
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 31, 2021
Alain Rolland on Rassie Erasmus’ behaviour.
“The way Rassie Erasmus has behaved this week is appalling. I’m sick and tired of people bashing the guys in the middle. If you don’t have referees, you’re not going to get a game,” Rolland wrote.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. One of the core values of our game is respect for officials and Rassie has gone completely against that. In fact, he’s taken it to a whole new level.
“Has the game been brought into disrepute? Absolutely. You can’t question Nic Berry’s character and integrity. It’s unacceptable. It’s just a ploy to distract attention from South Africa’s players and coaches.
“Nobody’s talking about how many kicks Handre Pollard missed now, are they? That’s what coaches do. It’s a cheap way to take the pressure off themselves.”
Springboks still under pressure to deliver despite diverted attention.
While much of the talk in the build-up to the second test between the Springboks and the Lions has been about the officials, there will be no hiding for the hosts’ in today’s game in Cape Town.
South Africa started the first test very well, and looked in complete control by half time, but their nine-point lead quickly disappeared in the second half as the Lions rallied to claim a five-point win.
The Springboks have made three changes to their starting team and also have six forwards on the bench for today’s game, which has presumably been done in an effort to give the home side an extra boost late on.
The Lions will be confident going into today’s game, and will look to emulate the 1997 tour, in which they secured the test series with victories in the first two matches.