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British and Irish Lions: Siya Kolisi ‘didn’t feel respected at all’ in first Test

Rassie Erasmus’ South Africa lost 22-17 to the British and Irish Lions in the first TestVenue: Cape Town Stadium Dates: Saturday, 31 July Kick-off: 17:00 BSTCoverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and appSouth Africa captain Siya Kolisi says he “didn’t feel respected at all” by referee Nic Berry in the opening loss to the British and Irish Lions, backing up claims made by Rassie Erasmus.Earlier on Friday, the Lions called the controversy a “sideshow”, while Rugby Australia deemed it “unacceptable”.The second Test is on Saturday.One of Erasmus’ claims in the unusual and unprecedented video was that Kolisi did not get the same respect given to Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones in the 22-17 loss.The South Africa director of rugby added that he recorded the video in the hope that the Springboks would get an “equal chance” in Saturday’s second Test, which will be refereed by New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe.Kolisi said he “didn’t get given the same access to the referee” in the opener, adding: “I didn’t feel respected at all.”I didn’t feel I was given a fair opportunity. 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.”Public debate over the series’ officiating began before the first Test, when the Lions were reported to be furious over the use of a South African television match official.Marius Jonker had to step in after New Zealander Brendon Pickerill was unable to travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic.Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said concerns raised about the TMO “destroyed the dignity of the series”.Before the opening win, the Lions had expressed their frustration at the use of a South African television match official for the seriesErasmus video ‘just a sideshow’ – McBrydeLions forwards coach Robin McBryde said on Friday morning that Erasmus’ video was “not going to affect anything” as the side attempt to seal a series win on Saturday.”That’s just a sideshow,” he continued. “Everybody realises [referees] have got a tough job to do.”We were really happy with Nic Berry last Saturday and I don’t think it is going to be any different this weekend.”Erasmus may yet be charged by World Rugby for his actions and the global governing body said it would raise the issue with the South African Rugby Union.Rugby Australia released a statement on Friday saying “there is no place for abuse of match officials in Australian rugby”, describing Erasmus’ behaviour as “against the spirit and values of the game”.”It is important to ensure public attacks of this nature are not tolerated,” the union’s chief executive Andy Marinos said.”We will continue to provide support to Nic at this time, as both his physical and mental wellbeing remain a priority for us.”‘Rugby prides itself on rising above’ – McBrydeMcBryde said questioning referees’ decisions is “not really my cup of tea”, referring to a trial in the Pro14 Rainbow Cup earlier in the year where captains could challenge an official’s call.The former Wales international said “traditionally rugby has been able to pride itself on rising above that” and added that players are told not to speak back to the referee “from a very young age”.”Hopefully it [the game] will be a good spectacle and we can forget about what’s happened this week,” McBryde continued.Lions full-back Stuart Hogg said the players had not watched Erasmus’ video “at all”, saying “we’ve just been concentrating on ourselves and left him to himself”.But the 29-year-old did take time to praise Saturday’s referee O’Keeffe, saying he is “one of the best” he has dealt with in his time as Scotland captain.”He’s good at communicating,” Hogg said. “That’s the reason why a large majority of the games where he’s involved are allowed to flow.”Everybody is entitled to their opinion on referees but they’re the ones that run the game and they have a huge amount of respect from us as players. I’d hate to do the job if I’m honest.”‘Erasmus is trying to divert attention off players’ – SkinstadFormer Springboks captain Bob Skinstad says fans will back World Cup-winning coach Erasmus’ move as long as it helps the Boks square the series.”Rassie’s star has been shining bright, we have all seen the story and seen what he has done for South African rugby and South African sport,” Skinstad told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly.”I think he is trying to divert the attention off the players during a difficult week for the Springboks after losing.”He has always been an innovator, always been a guy who has pushed boundaries and looked for whatever edge you can get, but so has [Lions head coach] Warren Gatland.”They play a media game to alleviate focus off their team, and I think a lot of [South African] fans will be going ‘wow, that’s a big go you’ve had there, but this is a war’.”And all is fair in love and war. Rassie only has one more chance at it to keep his team in this series. They lose on the weekend and it’s over.”Referee JP Doyle said it is “unprecedented” for comments like Erasmus’ to be made so publicly, but they are not unusual “behind the scenes”.

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