Siya Kolisi backs up Erasmus’ claims he was treated unfairly

‘I didn’t feel I had the same access to the referee and there’s proof if you watch’

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi during the captain’s run at the Cape Town Stadium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi during the captain’s run at the Cape Town Stadium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

The Springboks captain Siya Kolisi has supported claims by Rassie Erasmus that he was not treated with the same respect as his British and Irish Lions counterpart during the first test by referee Nic Berry last Saturday.

During the hour-long video which Erasmus posted on Wednesday morning, in one of the clips he alleged Berry, who will be an assistant referee in the second test, showed far more respect to Alun Wyn Jones than he did to Kolisi.

In their eve of match press conference before tomorrow’s second test, the Springboks have doubled down in their collective view that they were the victims of poor officiating in the first test, with backs coach Mzwandile Stick saying the Lions “destroyed the dignity of the series” by questioning the appointment of the former South African referee, Marius Jonker, as TMO before the first Test.

Asked if he felt he was treated differently as captain and if he was confident he would receive equal treatment in the second test, Kolisi said: “First question, yes, I didn’t feel respected at all. I didn’t feel I was given a fair opportunity. That’s the answer to the first question.

“The second one, yeah, 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.”

Asked to substantiate the claims, Kolisi retorted: “Have you watched the video? Watch the video and we can speak about it,” he answered.

“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. I didn’t feel I had 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.”

Stick, meanwhile, echoed the annoyance expressed by Erasmus over the Lions’ complaints about the appointment of Jonker as TMO.

Integrity

“Without going deep on it, let’s go on the build-up to the first game. 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 time, we are living during Covid and the other gentleman that was supposed to be the TMO (Brendon Pickerill of New Zealand) 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.

“And the fact that that was publicly 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, you know what, we are not asking for any favours. We just want equal ground.”

Stick also felt that there was essentially no difference between the Lions management using the mainstream media or Erasmus taking to social media.

“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. We are living in different times now so (there are) the traditional media conferences and there is a social media which is very powerful and I know there has been a lot of hype between the two coaches which is our director of rugby Rassie and (Warren) Gatland on the other side.

“All I am saying is that if whatever Rassie said on the social media, I am not on Twitter so I don’t know, but I have seen videos around and all that stuff. For me, media conferences or social media there is a saying in Xhosa that the bears they have all got different sounds but they all come under the same bush.

“That is my point I am trying to get across. Even if things are being said in social media or they are being said in the traditional media conference it is still the media.

“Both coaches wanted to get their messages across and it was clear Rassie wanted to get his own personal view. It had nothing to do with us a team, our main focus was to train and actually, I am on Facebook, so I saw a couple of things and once again for us, we are not asking for any favours, we just want a fair, equal ground for everyone.

“So 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.”

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