South Africa captain Siya Kolisi has said he didn’t feel he was showed respect from referee Nic Berry during the first Test against the Lions last weekend.
In a further escalation by the Springboks in their public criticism of the officiating team for the 22-17 defeat, Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick spoke out against the performance of Australian Berry after director of rugby Rassie Erasmus released an explosive hour-long video pointing to aggrieved decisions.
In the video Erasmus claims Berry did not show the same level of respect to Kolisi as he did to Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones.
The video has been met with caution by World Rugby, an opposite view by the Lions, and condemnation by Rugby Australia.
But Kolisi has reiterated to view of the Springboks camp that they were not given an ‘equal chance’ by Berry.
Asked for examples of how he felt a lack of respect from referee Berry, the Boks captain pointed to Erasmus’ video, which includes several passages where the former Munster director of rugby suggests Berry failed to listen to Kolisi and even “laughed” at him.
“Sorry, did you watch the video? Did you watch the video that has been put out there?” said Kolisi.
“Watch that and then we can chat after the game. 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.
“But I didn’t get 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.”
Kolisi did say he is happy to be working with Kiwi referee Ben O’Keeffe in the second Test, a match which will see Berry act as an assistant official.
“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.”
South Africa backs coach Mzwandile Stick’s was much more open to ‘getting into it’, saying the Lions had ‘destroyed the integrity of the series’ by questioning the appointment of Marius Jonker as TMO ahead of the first Test.
“Let’s go on the build-up to the first game,” said Stick. “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, we are living during Covid and the other gentleman that was supposed to be the TMO [Brendon Pickerill] 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.
“The fact that that was publically 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… we are not asking for any favours.
“We just want equal ground, 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.
“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.