No time for extra-time! Warren Gatland open for sudden death against South Africa if decisive third Test ends in a draw… but Lions head coach’s wishes set to be denied if series finishes at 1-1
- South Africa and the British and Irish Lions go into Saturday’s third Test at 1-1
- The Lions drew their last tour of New Zealand 1-1 after the third Test ended 15-15
- That series had an anti-climax to it and Warren Gatland is keen to avoid that
Warren Gatland has called for extra-time in the event of a draw in Saturday’s third Test – but his wish to avoid the threat of another series stalemate is destined to be blocked.
The Lions head coach was initially gripped by a sense of anti-climax when his 2017 side tied their series against the All Blacks. Now, the current British and Irish squad are level with the Springboks at 1-1 going into the decider and after criticism of boring rugby, it would be seen as a dull outcome too if the teams can’t be separated this weekend.
Asked if he would be keen on the idea of playing extra-time to achieve a definite result, Gatland said: ‘I’d never even thought about that until you raised it. Maybe that’s something that someone can talk about over the next few days; about whether we do potentially go to extra-time if it is a draw. That’s not a bad idea.’
Warren Gatland would like to see sudden death on Saturday if South Africa and the Lions draw
The Test series is currently tied at 1-1 going into the third and final encounter on Saturday
Lions head coach Gatland is open to extra time if after 80 minutes the match is a draw
As first revealed by Sportmail back in May, the tour agreement does not allow for additional time to be played, but Gatland is entitled to raise the possibility, given that other short-notice changes have been made since the Lions arrived here. They had to face the Sharks twice because the Bulls suffered a COVID outbreak, all three Tests were shifted to Cape Town and a local TMO, Marius Jonker, had to be hurriedly appointed for the Tests when it emerged that Brendon Pickerill was unable to travel.
So there has been flexibility with certain arrangements, but there is unlikely to be any in this case. The guidance from the Lions is that the tour agreement cannot be amended and a leading source, when asked about extra-time, said: ‘No, it was pre-agreed. A draw is a draw.’
Reflecting on the climax of the 2017, when it finished 15-15 between New Zealand and the Lions in the third Test, Gatland previously said: ‘It was a little bit strange, really. I went down to the field, saw Steve Hansen (the then All Blacks head coach), shook his hand, and he said, “How do you feel?”. I said, “I’m not too sure”. He said, “It’s a bit like kissing your sister, isn’t it?!” It took a while for things to sink in and then afterwards, on reflection, I’m pretty proud of a drawn series.’
The Lions drew their series 1-1 with New Zealand in 2017 after the third Test ended 15-15
There is a recent precedent for extra-time to decide the outcome of an international competition. Last December, England won the Autumn Nations Cup via sudden death after their final against France at Twickenham had finished 19-19 in normal time.
Meanwhile, World Rugby have been warned about the danger of a heavyweight legal challenge when they launch disciplinary proceedings against Rassie Eramus. South Africa’s director of rugby is facing a misconduct charge after his out-spoken criticism of match officials during this series, but he has been promised powerful support.
Marco Masotti, the US-based owner of the Natal Sharks on Wednesday posted on Twitter: ‘I have a team of New York lawyers ready to take care of Rassie and SA Rugby. Let us put World Rugby on trial.’