The second Lions and All Blacks test had it all: a ferocious contest, superb skills and relentless determination from both sides.
However, at times the passion and the white hot intensity spilled over into more than can be seen as acceptable on a rugby pitch and this was no better encapsulated than the poor attitude shown by replacement scrum-half TJ Perenara.
As the All Blacks began to feel under pressure and could see defeat becoming a real possibility at home for the first time since going down to the Springboks in 2009, replacement scrum-half Perenara began to remonstrate with the referees and assistant referees, questioning decisions and arguing with calls.
Whilst Perenara may feel rightly aggrieved about having his leg pulled back as Conor Murray went in for a close-range try, his actions towards the referee afterwards seemed more reminiscent of a top level football player rather than the stoic professionalism we have come to expect from our top rugby players.
One thing that rugby has always prided itself on is its attitude towards dealing with referee. It is something this writer has brought up before.
Professionalism in the sport has brought a clinicalness onto the pitch, but at the same time it is vital that rugby’s morals and virtues are protected and treasured. Whilst money means more meaning to games in some ways, this cannot manifest itself through targeting referees.
Moreover, Perenara was involved in an altercation with the Lions’ Kyle Sinckler at the end of the game, when the final whistle had been blown. When the whistle goes that is it – whatever happened on the pitch stays there, but the players in this instance let the action boil over to beyond that. That doesn’t belong in rugby.
For a country that prides itself not just its performances on the pitch but its whole attitude to the game, New Zealand should be disapponted with how one of their players in particular reacted to the situation.
Hopefully the ethos of the sport will be better respected come the crucial third test despite the pressure bearing down on all the players’ shoulders.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena