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'The refs have the hardest job in the game' - Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones

The Welshman opted against commenting on Rassie Erasmus’ remarkable video.

Jones speaks to his Lions players last weekend.
Jones speaks to his Lions players last weekend.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

LIONS CAPTAIN ALUN Wyn Jones says referees have the most difficult job in rugby following Rassie Erasmus’ explosive video review of the match officials’ decision-making during the Springboks’ defeat to the tourists last weekend.

Erasmus posted a video lasting over an hour in which he dissects referee Nic Berry and his team’s performance in the first Test, arguing that the Springboks were hard done by.

The SA Rugby director of rugby went as far as to claim that Springboks captain Siya Kolisi had not been shown the same level of respect as his Lions counterpart Jones.

“It’s probably a question for the officials,” said Jones this afternoon when asked about that specific comment from Erasmus.

“In the heat of the moment, it didn’t really feel as if we had any advantage because a lot of the time I was standing there next to Siya when we were speaking to the refs, etc. So that’s an outside perception that I probably can’t really comment on.”

Jones said he hadn’t watched Erasmus’ video and had only “heard a little bit about it” as he instead focused on what is happening on the training pitch in Lions camp.

Jones opted against commenting on whether the video will put pressure on the officials for this weekend’s second Test, with Ben O’Keeffe set to be the main referee as Berry and Mathieu Raynal act as assistant referees and Marius Jonker continues on TMO duty.

Jones did point out that refereeing rugby is an extremely difficult job.

siya-kolisi-at-the-coin-toss-with-nic-berry-and-alun-wyn-jones Siya Kolisi and Jones with referee Nic Berry. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“I just think the game has changed and I think it does get difficult for players the way the speed of the game is going, the ball in play and I think sometimes the refs have the hardest job in the game in the middle of all that,” said Jones.

“They obviously have assistance and you have a TMO and I think more than ever decisions are being focused on but it’s always been the way.

“I think they’ve always been scrutinized, I just think it’s probably in vogue at the moment and obviously it’s been highlighted by some this past week.”

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Jones stressed that the Lions players are not spending too much time thinking about the refereeing or the comments on it, instead focusing on what they expect to be a renewed challenge from the Springboks on Saturday.

“It’s going to be more of the same,” said Jones. The set-piece, you can see by the South African selection [with] the 6-2 on the bench that they are probably going to have a bit more emphasis trying to get more set-piece.

“We’ve got elements of game management in line with the set-piece and we had a couple of ‘comms’ [communication] areas that we need to sort out early on in the game. So that’s still going to feature heavily in the next test.

“Obviously early on we were probably disappointed with the way we started at scrum time. I probably felt we were under pressure.

“I think our management improved drastically in the second half. We did well to turn the scoreboard around and we just want to make sure that we don’t give ourselves too much of a deficit in that early area of the game.”

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Murray Kinsella

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