South Africa will explore any option to face Lions - Erasmus

By Sports Desk January 18, 2021

Rassie Erasmus says South Africa will "explore any option" to ensure they do not miss out on facing the British and Irish Lions.

The Lions are scheduled to lock horns with the world champions in July and August, but the tour is in doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Playing the series in the United Kingdom has been mooted as a potential alternative to the Lions flying out to South Africa.

Delaying the tour until next year could be another alternative and a decision is expected to be made next month, with talks among the Lions board ongoing.

South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, who who coached the Springboks to Rugby World Cup glory in 2019, says the Webb Ellis Cup holders are willing to be flexible over where and when they take on the Lions.

"We desperately want to play the Lions, and we will do anything to play them," he said in a press conference.

"This series only comes around every 12 years. I have heard the different calls and opinions about the tour, and although we didn't play in the Rugby Championship because of player welfare, it was also because we knew there was this big series in 2021.

"If option one of playing in South Africa doesn't work out, we will go to option Z to make it happen.

"We don't want to lose out on the Lions series, we feel we deserve to play against them. I want to, Jacques Nienaber [Springboks head coach] wants to, the players want to. So from our side, we'll do anything.

"But yes, we will explore any option to play the Lions, we will play next year, we will play over there. This is the view from a player and management perspective."

Related items

  • All Blacks half-back Smith commits to New Zealand Rugby All Blacks half-back Smith commits to New Zealand Rugby

    All Blacks half-back Aaron Smith has committed to New Zealand Rugby (NZR) until the 2023 World Cup in France after signing a new contract.

    NZR confirmed on Tuesday that the 32-year-old, who has 97 caps for the All Blacks, had penned a new deal securing his future with Super Rugby side Highlanders and provincially with Manawatu.

    Palmerston North-born Smith is New Zealand's most capped half-back and remains a key member of the All Blacks side who finished third at the 2019 World Cup.

    "One thing that hasn't changed is my love for the Highlanders, the All Blacks and Manawatu," Smith said.

    "The decision to stay is based on a number of things, but I'm very keen to see the Highlanders do well, we have a good environment here and some great, young players, so I think the next few years will be exciting for us and it'll be great to be part of it.

    "Dunedin has been good to me. My wife Teagan and I have a home and a business here and our son Luka was born here. 

    "I felt that committing to the Highlanders for another few years in some small way says thanks for all the support we have enjoyed over the years."

    All Blacks coach Ian Foster added that Smith's influence on the side could not be underestimated.

    "He is so instrumental in the way we play the game and is such a vital cog for us, both on and off the field, so this is fantastic news," Foster said. 

    "We're delighted that Aaron, Teagan and his family have decided to commit to New Zealand and congratulate them on the decision."

    It is anticipated Smith will bring up his 100th New Zealand cap this year, while he is two caps away from equalling the record for most appearances for the Highlanders.

  • Jones claims Itoje can get hard time from refs as England prop Genge reveals 'keyboard warrior' death threats Jones claims Itoje can get hard time from refs as England prop Genge reveals 'keyboard warrior' death threats

    Maro Itoje gave away five penalties in England's 40-24 Six Nations defeat to Wales but head coach Eddie Jones claimed officials can "tend to over-referee a player like him".

    Referee Pascal Gauzere faced scrutiny over his decision-making in Saturday's Cardiff clash, a third-round tussle in the Six Nations.

    Wales scored two controversial first-half tries, but England's lack of discipline was also the Red Rose's undoing, giving away 14 penalties in total.

    Jones related the attention Itoje draws from match officials to that experienced by former Australia forward George Smith.

    Speaking about Saracens star Itoje, Jones said: "He is one of the best players in the world and he plays the game on the edge.

    "I can remember the same sort of discussion being had about George Smith at one stage. Sometimes the referees tend to over-referee a player like him."

    Quoted in several newspapers, Jones said Itoje could find ways to improve, for the benefit of his teams.

    "There are areas of the game he needs to tidy up and he knows that," Jones said. "He's a good boy. A good player. There are just a few things in his game he needs to tidy up."

    Jones would not want a repeat in England's next scheduled match, the home clash with coronavirus-hit France on March 13.

    The apparent depths to which sporting rivalries can sink was underlined on Sunday when England prop Ellis Genge revealed he had received death threats after the Principality Stadium defeat.

    Genge was shown on camera not clapping off the Wales team at the end of the match.

    Genge wrote on Twitter: "Don't know why I'm not clapping in that tunnel must be deep in thought, utmost respect for the Welsh. As for keyboard warriors sending death threats etc ...."

    England Rugby denounced such social media targeting of players, stating: "Respect is a core value of rugby. Yesterday we lost to Wales who deserved their victory.

    "Unfortunately some of the reaction on social media to players and the team has not shown the level of respect the rugby community prides itself on.

    "We will support our players and team against online abuse and hope true rugby fans will stand with us."

  • Six Nations 2021: Jones and Farrell refuse to blame referee Gauzere for England's defeat to Wales Six Nations 2021: Jones and Farrell refuse to blame referee Gauzere for England's defeat to Wales

    Eddie Jones and Owen Farrell refused to point the finger at referee Pascal Gauzere after clinical Wales beat England 40-24 to secure the Triple Crown.

    The Red Rose's hopes of retaining the Six Nations title are all-but over after Wales scored four tries in a bonus-point victory at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

    England were made to pay for indiscipline as Wales moved two wins away from a Grand Slam in Cardiff, but the defending champions had every right to feel aggrieved by two controversial first-half tries.

    Josh Adams touched down in the corner when he was picked out by a kick from Dan Biggar soon after Gauzere had called time out, having instructed captain Farrell to warn his team-mates about giving away too many penalties.

    Farrell confronted Gauzere after he allowed that try to stand and both players were stunned when Liam Williams was awarded a score following a knock-on from Louis Rees-Zammit.

    Jones said ahead the match that Gauzere would be under pressure to make the right decisions and the England head coach has previous with the French official, who he complained about to World Rugby in 2018.

    The Australian would not say whether he would speak to the governing body again after tries from Anthony Watson and Ben Youngs, as well as 14 points for Farrell, were in vain.

    Jones told BBC Sport: "It is what it is. We can't argue with the referee, the result is there in stone, we've got to accept it. Maybe they were tough calls but we weren't good enough to overcome that.

    "I'm not going to make a comment on it, I accept the referee's decision. It could have been tough, but we've got to handle it. That’s the decision. It’s 40-24, let’s accept that we weren’t good enough on the day.

    "We might have had some though calls. We’ve got to adapt to the game, adapt to the referee. If the referee is going to referee like that, we’ve got to deal with it."

    Asked if he might make another complaint over Gauzere, he said: "That's not something to discuss today. Wales were worthy winners.

    "I was pleased with how our players fought back, got ourselves back to 24-24 and probably the last play summed up our day.

    "We did some lovely attacking work, get to the last pass, they intercepted and go down and score at the other end. That’s the difference of the game."

    Skipper Farrell was also not prepared to blame Gauzere.

    Asked about the referee's performance, he said: "That's not for us to talk about. We got our way back into it and didn't quite finish it off. There’s plenty that we can do better.

    "I'd have to look back at it [the first Wales try]. I don’t know [if we could have been more alert]. There's no point in talking about it now, let everybody else talk about it. We’ll focus on what we can control. We’ll control what we can control."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.