Warren Gatland hits out at Springboks and their “win at all costs” mentality

Not impressed.

Former British and Irish Lion head coach Warren Gatland has hit out at the Springboks and their approach to winning following some unsavory behaviour during the 2021 tour.

South Africa emerged as 2-1 winners, with the match being covered by many online betting websites, but the series was marred with controversy throughout with Rassie Erasmus infamously releasing a 60-minute video attack on the match officials after his side was defeated in the opening Test match.

Gatland said “It didn’t feel it was about rugby” and highlighted the antics that went on throughout the tour off the field.

“That was probably the first time I experienced what happened in South Africa, it was almost a win at all costs, the ends justifies the means,” Gatland told The Rugby Pod.

“Some of the stuff that happened off the field with Rassie and even in New Zealand in 2017, there were certain things with the media that I was like, ‘the Lions have changed the teams you’re playing against.’

“It didn’t feel like it was about rugby, it was about winning was the most important thing.

“It was almost like things off the field were trying to upset players or the team, and it was deemed acceptable.”

Gatland also revealed that he believes the Covid stricken tour shouldn’t have even gone ahead in the first place as fans are what make Lions tours so special.

“It was different. Probably for me, I think the tour should have been postponed,” he added

“There were a couple of nations who felt that postponement would impact their World Cup preparation.

“For me, I thought that was rubbish. For me, it is not about the rugby, it’s about the fans, which is what makes it special.”

Looking ahead to the 2025 tour of Australia, Gatland hopes it will be a massive success with the return of fans for the first time since the 2017 tour of New Zealand.

“It’s an unbelievable concept, and we should do everything we can to protect the Lions going forward,” he said.

“I really hope that Australia next year will be brilliant. We are touring Japan with Wales so I hope to get down there for the third Test.

“I look forward to getting to watch it as a fan again, and I am really privileged to have had that experience. I am humbled by my involvement with the Lions and really proud of that.

“It means a huge amount to me, and I will back the Lions as a team, and we should do everything to make sure it flourishes.”

“I have this romantic view of the Lions that it’s a celebration of the game.

“You’re bringing players together from four nations, and you’re playing against traditionally one of the best nations in the world once every 12 years, and it’s the fans that make it.

“It’s a chance for the southern hemisphere to experience what we often experience in the Six Nations games where 40% of the crowd can be Lions supporters and that’s what creates that atmosphere.

“If you go and watch an All Blacks or Australian game being played there, 95% of the fans are local supporters, so they kind of get to experience what happens during the Six Nations.”

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