Springboks lock Lood de Jager believes the fiery nature of the second Test between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions was down to the high-stakes at play last Saturday.
The Sale Sharks forward made a big impact off the bench to help the Springboks turn the screw and outscore the Lions 21-0 in the second period to level the series at 1-1 with a 27-9 victory, leaving everything to play for in this Saturday’s third and final Test at Cape Town Stadium.
Yet it was a game full of niggle, frayed tempers, and two yellow cards for foul play, one from each side, while Lions replacement prop Kyle Sinckler was later cited for an alleged biting incident which he will have to answer at an independent disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.
The reason for that, de Jager believes, was because so much was on the line with the Springboks fighting to stay alive in the series and the Lions desperate to close it out with a game in hand.
“I would say there was a little bit more than the usual amount of niggle due to the magnitude of the game,” de Jager said on Monday.
“The players are playing for their countries and are very proud. It was a massive game for (the Lions) as if they won that game they won the series and for us, it was even bigger as if we lost we were done.”
In the wake of last week’s controversy concerning SA Rugby’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and his public critiquing of first Test referee Nic Berry’s “unfair” decisions against the Springboks via an hour-long video posted online, South Africa forwards coach Deon Davids said the home camp was happy with World Rugby’s citing process.
“I think we’re quite satisfied with the process that was followed and that was put into action by the coaching staff and the processes with World Rugby and whatever decision they make, we trust that process and we will abide to that going forth.”
Erasmus had accused Berry of disrespecting South Africa captain Siya Kolisi compared to the Lions’ Alun Wyn Jones during the first Test, a claim backed by the skipper.
Asked on Monday if he felt there was greater parity from Ben O’Keeffe, the man in charge of the second Test, and if that had been as a direct result of the intervention from Erasmus, Davids replied: “I can’t comment on that in terms of being a direct result.
“All I can say is that I think we’re quite happy in the way in which the certain areas of the game that we highlighted were refereed this week.
“I think there was good communication between the referee and the players, the referee and the captains, throughout the game and at the end of the game we were able to express ourselves in the way that we want to and play the type of rugby we feel is our strength… yes, we’re quite happy in terms of how the game has been refereed this past weekend.”