“There’s A Reason That Position Is Neutral” – Lions Furious With Controversial Appointment For Springboks Tests

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

Not happy.

The British and Irish Lions are furious following the appointment of South African Marius Jonker as TMO for all three of their Test matches against the Springboks.

Brendon Pickerill of New Zealand was originally named as the TMO for the Test series but is now unable to fulfil that role due to COVID-related travel issues.

A very special British & Irish Lions House of Rugby show – fronted by Sean O'Brien and Alex Goode – is available now and will run for the duration of the tour. Follow and subscribe to it HERE

Jonker was in charge of the Lions vs South Africa ‘A’ last week and caused quite a stir due to a number of controversial decisions, including a dangerous tackle by scrumhalf Faf de Klerk on Lions flanker Josh Navidi that only resulted in a yellow card.

“I can’t understand where the comments were that there was no contact to the head,” Lions head coach Warren Gatland said at the time.

“Someone was watching a different picture to me. I thought it looked reckless.

“No arms and he’s hit the arm first and then the shoulder, but there’s definitely head-on-head contact.”

Lions assistant coach Robin McBryde spoke to us this morning and revealed that the Lions only found out on Wednesday that Jonker would be taking over.

“It was a bit unexpected, we only found out on Wednesday,” McBryde said this morning.

“There’s a slight lack of foresight with regards to there’s a reason that position is neutral, so there was no plan B put in place. We’ve got to get on with it.

“We met the three officials who are officiating this weekend and we went through everything that has happened to date. They’re aware of it and they’re confident in the communication they’ll have that they’ll be able to, between the four of them, come to the right decision.

“The role of the TMO in that, their say is really final in regards to his communication with the referee, so it is a very important position. I’m sure there will be no issues on the weekend.

“It’s very much a clean slate. The referees are aiming for consistency and we had a good discussion. They’re trusting their own decisions and the understanding between them. Hopefully that comes to the fore on the weekend.”