Lions want 'law clarity'
Lions coach Johan Ackermann has formally asked for "clarity" on certainly questionable rulings made by referee Jaco Peyper.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann has formally asked for "clarity" on certainly questionable rulings made by referee Jaco Peyper in their encounter with the Sharks last week.
Ackermann - who made it clear he is not blaming the match officials for the 23-37 loss in Durban, he laid at the door of a "poor start" by his side and "a lack of discipline" - has written to SANZAR Games Manager Lyndon Bray and South African referees' boss Andrew Watson.
The Lions mentor said despite his team's own failings, some of Peyper's ruling were "huge momentum shifters".
He was most agitated by a call inside the final 10 minutes - when Lions centre Stefan Watermeyer and Sharks wing Lwazi Mvovo collided in mid-air, both chasing a high kick, and the referee penalised the Lions player for the collision, suggesting Watermeyer should have given way because Mvovo had jumped first.
Ackermann, who admitted his team did not have the ideal start and conceded three soft tries that contributed to the Sharks' win, felt that in the last quarter they played their best rugby.
"We attacked well and we had them on the rack," the Lions mentor told this website in an interview, adding: "[That was] till [referee] Jaco Peyper awarded what I felt was a controversial penalty - when Stefan Watermeyer jumped for the ball in the air and he awarded a penalty against us.
"We had good momentum, they were a man down with a [Ryan Kankowski's] yellow card and from there [the penalty against Watermeyer] we struggled to get out of our half again."
Ackermann told this website that he has made contact with the relevant authorities to get clarity on that incident and some other rulings.
"I have sent an Email to [SANZAR Game Manager] Lyndon Bray and [South African referees boss] Andre Watson.
"I want some clarity on some decisions."
He said that apart from the penalty against Watermeyer there were "one or two incidents at the breakdown", where he wasn't sure if they were penalties.
"In my opinion there were also one or two scrums where we had them under pressure and then didn't get the reward for it.
"I asked for clarity on those.
"However, I feel the big turning point was that penalty against Stefan [Watermeyer], where he jumped for the ball. If you look at the clip, he continued to contest the ball and won it, after he got to his feet. If that wasn't a penalty, we would have had possession and who knows what could have happened.
"The momentum was in our favour at that stage and it swung back their way with that penalty.
"There are for or five incidents I want clarity on, which I felt changed momentum in the game."
The Lions coach was adamant that he is not apportioning blame for the result on the match officials.
"We have to acknowledge that in the first half our discipline was just not good enough," Ackermann told this website.
"We did silly things like throwing the ball away, [the referee marched the penalty] 10 metres on and three points [against us].
"Aspects like that, discipline, the yellow card we conceded [against replacement Corne Fourie for repeated infringements in the 75th minute, when just seven points down].
"We were forced to try and stop a maul with just seven forwards [in the last minute]. They got the bonus point and we lost a bonus point - that is not acceptable.
"The players must know the laws, know when to contest for the ball and when not.
"However, we should not have been in that situation - we should have been playing in their half and not them playing in our half - which was the result of that penalty."
By Jan de Koning