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British and Irish Lions furious after South African TMO appointed for first Test

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South African Marius Jonker has been named as television match official for the three British and Irish Lions Tests after New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill was forced to withdraw; watch the first Test live on Sky Sports Lions on Saturday from 3pm

Warren Gatland is unhappy at the lack of a neutral TMO for Saturday's first Test

Warren Gatland is unhappy at the lack of a neutral TMO for Saturday’s first Test

The British and Irish Lions are furious that South African Marius Jonker has been appointed as television match official for Saturday’s first Test against the Springboks.

New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill was forced to withdraw due to pandemic-related travel issues, with Jonker taking his place for the series opener in Cape Town.

The Lions are understood to be pushing governing body World Rugby to appoint a neutral TMO for the second and third Tests of the series.

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World Rugby used ‘home’ TMOs in last year’s Rugby Championship but a referee would not officiate in a match involving their own country.

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Jonker acted as the TMO for the Lions’ 17-13 defeat to South Africa ‘A’, the tourists’ sole loss on tour so far.

Gatland was left frustrated that Springboks scrum-half Faf de Klerk avoided a red card for a tackle on Lions flanker Josh Navidi.

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The Lions boss had been aiming to seek clarity over the incident with officials, stating last week: “I can’t understand where the comments were that there was no contact to the head.

“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.”

South Africa rugby director Rassie Erasmus responded to Gatland’s critique of De Klerk by tweeting footage of what he considered dangerous tackles by Lions fly-half Owen Farrell.

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