Bryan Habana has applauded Warren Gatland for putting pressure on TMO Marius Jonker before the British and Irish Lions’ first test against South Africa.
Lions head coach Gatland was reportedly furious when South African TMO Jonker was appointed for the first test against the Springboks, after New Zealander Brendon Pickerill pulled out due to covid-related reasons.
Habana was writing in his column for Sky Sports and acknowledged that Gatland was “extremely smart” to highlight the TMO situation, so that the South African would be “heavily scrutinised” for any decisions that may go against the Lions.
Hear from Head Coach Warren Gatland 🦁
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 27, 2021
Bryan Habana on Warren Gatland.
“I think Warren Gatland was extremely smart in highlighting an issue he was obviously very frustrated about,” Habana wrote.
“And it, unfortunately, put Marius Jonker the TMO in a lose-lose situation in my opinion, because whatever he was going to do was going to be heavily scrutinised, either from a Lions perspective or SA Rugby perspective.
“I felt it needed to be made more clear that it wasn’t an SA Rugby appointment, it was a World Rugby one, and I defended Marius in the build-up to the test match last week.
“It’s rugby, and if we’re going to scrutinise every phase of play in rugby and play everything back in slow motion, I’m sure there will be a number of things that will be highlighted that go unseen in a game.”
Officiating decisions in the first test.
Although there were worries over a South African being part of the officiating team for a South Africa test match, it’s fair to say that the Lions got the majority of the 50/50 decisions in the game.
The Springboks had two tries ruled out in the game, and although Cheslin Kolbe clearly knocked the ball on for the second of those, Willie le Roux’s disallowed try was a much closer call.
Lions replacement forward Hamish Watson was also arguably lucky not to be sent to the sin bin in the second half for a tip-tackle on le Roux.
Several questionable officiating decisions were pointed out in a video shared by anonymous Twitter user Jaco Johan, which was then retweeted by South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.