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Lions ‘astonished’ by appointment of South African TMO for first Springboks test

Lions Springboks

The British and Irish Lions are understood to be furious about the appointment of a South African TMO for the first test against the Springboks.

Marius Jonker will act as the Television Match Official for Saturday’s game between the Lions and the Springboks, after New Zealand native Brendon Pickerill was unable to travel due to covid-related reasons.

Warren Gatland and the Lions, who were only notified of the change of TMO on Wednesday, are furious with the decision, according to the BBC.

Marius Jonker to act as TMO for the first test.

The rest of the officiating team for Saturday’s game remains unchanged, as Australia’s Nic Berry will act as the main referee, while New Zealand’s Ben O’Keefe and France’s Mathieu Raynal will act as the assistants.

South African officials have been used in some capacity in every game on tour this summer, but a completely neutral team of officials was expected for the test series against the Springboks.

Jonker acted as the TMO for the Lions’ game against South Africa ‘A’, in which Gatland complained about the decision to give scrum-half Faf de Klerk a yellow card for a no arms high tackle, instead of a red.

Warren Gatland’s complaints over Marius Jonker in South Africa ‘A’ game.

“I can’t understand when the comments were that there was no contact to the head,” Gatland said of de Klerk’s tackle.

“Someone was watching a different picture to me. It looked reckless to me, no arms and he’s hit the arm first and then the shoulder, but then there’s definitely head contact.

“We’ve got a meeting with the referees tomorrow just to get a little bit more clarity on that. What we want is some clarity so we can get complete consistency.

While all international matches are supposed to be officiated by neutral referee teams, World Rugby explained that they could not fly in a different TMO on short notice due to covid-related issues.

There has been several incidents of non-neutral referees officiating international matches since the beginning of the pandemic, three of which were in last year’s Tri Nations tournament between Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.

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