Your rugby morning headlines for Sunday, July 25.
Classy Erasmus sends public message to Lions
After the match on Saturday, Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus took to social media to publicly congratulate the Lions on their win.
Earlier in the week, a war of words heated up a little bit, with the Lions particularly unhappy about the fact Erasmus was entering the field of play to deliver messages to the team as a water carrier.
But, after the teams had gone at it on the field, Erasmus was happy to put it all behind him.
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In a uncommon move, Erasmus tweeted to the Lions’ official account: “No excuses this side! You are far away from home, families and going through same tough covid protocols like we do!
“Congrats and well deserved!”
Boks have no complaints about TMO
South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has insisted that he does not believe the TMO got calls wrong in the Lions’ 22-17 victory last night.
Non-neutral TMO Marius Jonker played a significant role in the match, ruling out two Springbok tries and dismissing Hamish Watson’s tip tackle on Willie Le Roux, that some believed was worthy of a card.
But Nienaber would not get into a blame game after the match.
“I thought it was tight. As soon as we saw the try was given we, as coaches, thought it was going to be extremely tight,” he said.
“But I completely agree with and trust the decision they made. That is their profession, that is what they are good at.
“It could have gone both ways in my opinion, but I 100 per cent agree with the TMO decision.
“Sometimes those inches go for you and you score a brilliant try from a counter attack and sometimes it goes against you.”
Key Lions decision was pre-planned
Warren Gatland has revealed that the Lions’ game-changing decision to kick a penalty to the corner early in the second half last night was premeditated.
The tourists were 12-3 down at the break and the message from head coach Warren Gatland was to roll the dice and turn down shots at goal with early penalties in the second half.
The Lions did just that, declining the opportunity to kick and easy three with Dan Biggar instead going for the corner.
It paid off as Luke Cowan-Dickie scored a crucial try that got his side back in the match.
Asked if going to the corner was discussed at half time, Gatland said: “Yeah. We kind of felt that they never really got into our 22 and put us under pressure.
“And we felt that, with a couple of those penalties, we wanted to get into their 22 and really look to keep them down there and to pressurise them and to try and get some points from that.
“We mauled exceptionally well, particularly in that second half we got a couple of penalties and scored a try. It’s just about getting that balance right between when you take your three points and even though it’s three points it does relieve a lot of pressure on them.
“And that’s a decision the players make at the time, and the captain makes that. Dan Biggar in the first half has missed what for him would be considered a reasonably easy penalty to close the gap to 12-6 and then we’ve had a long shot with Elliot Daly.
“So there was just a little bit of a change of message at half-time about when we do get a chance to out them under pressure by kicking into the 22 let’s look at doing that.”
Alun Wyn Jones: Intensity about to go through the roof
Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones is not getting carried away after his side went 1-0 up in the Test series against South Africa on Saturday night.
An impressive second half display saw the Lions come roaring back from 12-3 down to win the match 22-17 in Cape Town.
But, while he encouraged the tourists to enjoy the victory, the lock did have a warning for his side.
“You want to win every game, whether it’s domestic, international, Lions,” he said.
“We know what we’ve achieved today but we also know what we haven’t achieved. There’s still plenty to do.
“This is a three-Test series.
“Knowing the calibre of player and the attitude our opposition have, that’s going to go through the roof next week and we have to be better again, first and foremost looking at ourselves but also to deal with what we know is going to come next week.
He added: “There were smiles after the game.
“In this sport, I think it applies to any sport, in moments like this you have to enjoy them because they don’t come around very often.
“But the caveat to that is we are only a third done.
“That message has already been planted.
“But it’s a time for everyone to take stock of where we are, and be ready to move on for next week.”