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Kolisi: 'I didn't feel respected at all. I didn't feel I was given a fair opportunity'

The Springboks say that the Lions ‘destroyed the dignity of the series.’

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.
Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.
Image: PA

SPRINGBOKS CAPTAIN SIYA Kolisi says he didn’t feel Australia referee Nic Berry showed him respect during last weekend’s first Test defeat to the Lions.

Kolisi’s words follow SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus yesterday suggesting that Berry showed more respect to Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones than he did to Kolisi.

The accusation was part of Erasmus’ extraordinary hour-long video criticising Berry’s refereeing decisions. Rugby Australia has since slammed Erasmus, while World Rugby has opened an investigation into his comments. 

However, the Springboks have doubled down on the accusations today, with Kolisi echoing Erasmus’ comments about respect and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick saying the Lions “destroyed the dignity of the series” by questioning the appointment of South African TMO Marius Jonker before the first Test.

Kolisi was clear in stating his belief that he hadn’t been shown respect by Berry.

“I didn’t feel respected at all,” said Kolisi this afternoon. “I didn’t feel I was given a fair opportunity.”

Asked for examples of how he felt a lack of respect from referee Berry, the Boks captain pointed to Erasmus’ video, which includes several passages where the former Munster director of rugby suggests Berry failed to listen to Kolisi and even “laughed” at him.

“Sorry, did you watch the video? Did you watch the video that has been put out there?” said Kolisi.

“Watch that and then we can chat after the game. I don’t really want to get into it, to be honest, but we can speak about it after the game. I’ll speak about anything with the game but I don’t want to get involved in that.

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

“But I didn’t get the same access to the referee and there’s proof if you watch the game again, you will definitely be able to see for yourself.

“I don’t want to speak too much about that. It has already happened, there’s nothing I can do about it, it’s not going to change anything. Our focus is on the next game.”

Kolisi did say he is happy to be working with Kiwi referee Ben O’Keeffe tomorrow.

“I’m looking forward to a new game and a new referee. I think Ben will give a fair opportunity for both captains and that’s all we’re asking.”

Berry will be one of the assistant referees for the second Test in Cape Town.

Meanwhile, assistant coach Stick reiterated Erasmus’ assertion that the Lions had questioned the integrity of TMO Jonker before the first Test and suggested that World Rugby should also investigate their comments. 

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“Let’s go on the build-up to the first game,” said Stick. “Firstly, the integrity of World Rugby was challenged by another human being where Marius Jonker was appointed TMO then someone on the other side was asking World Rugby and challenging them about the decision they made.

“Everyone knows we are living in a pandemic, we are living during Covid and the other gentleman that was supposed to be the TMO [Brendon Pickerill] because of the Covid protocols he couldn’t travel to South Africa. Unfortunately, that is not in our hands and we don’t appoint TMOs.

south-africa-a-v-vodacom-bulls-castle-lager-lions-series-cape-town-stadium Boks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick. Source: PA

“The fact that that was publically challenged by another coach on the other side and to date I haven’t heard any statement from his side apologising about it, I haven’t had any statement from World Rugby so I feel… we are not asking for any favours.

“We just want equal ground, it has taken us 12 years to get to where we are at the moment so I wouldn’t like the whole series to be all about decisions that were taken by the officials or the whole vibe about the coaches off the field.”

Stick said that while Erasmus’ video message and tweets about refereeing decisions have not come in the traditional press conference setting, it was no different to what the Lions have done in the media.

“If Rassie got into trouble for what he said on social media, I think the gentleman that challenged the integrity of the game at the beginning when the TMO was challenged, I think that is something that really destroyed the dignity of the series, and it also challenges the integrity of World Rugby.

“It says a lot about the gentleman who was going to be the TMO at the time which was Marius Jonker, so I think that is where it should come from.”

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