You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

NZ teams scrummage illegally: Gatland

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/06/2017 By Daniel Gilhooly
Warren Gatland. © Rex Images Warren Gatland.

Warren Gatland has lit a fuse under the scrum battle when his British and Irish Lions face the All Blacks after denouncing Kiwi techniques as illegal.

Coach Gatland is claiming the high ground in a technical war of words following the Lions' 12-3 defeat of the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

The all-All Blacks front row of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks conceded four scrum penalties to the tourists' none, with French referee Mathieu Raynal identifying repeated engagement breaches.

Crusaders forwards later admitted to frustration at the rulings, saying the Lions were clever enough to change the distance between the front rows from scrum to scrum.

Gatland hit back, commending Raynal for cracking down on methods which he says are prevalent in the Kiwi game.

He accused the home teams of illegally "pre-loading", in which the front rowers are poised to push before the referee's call but are held back by the rest of the pack.

They also don't observe the correct spacing between teams, he says.

"The law says there must be a small gap. They don't play to the law of the game so Super Rugby sides tend to scrummage illegally then, if that's the case," Gatland said.

"In Super Rugby they pre-load. We've practised for both scenarios, so we have prepared to full pre-load and for having a slight gap as well, depending on how the referee interprets it."

Interim Highlanders head coach Scott McLeod, whose team face the Lions in Dunedin on Tuesday, admits interpretation is at the heart of the matter.

If the Lions get referees that match their methods, it could be crucial in the Test series, he said.

Tuesday's match will be controlled by Australian referee Angus Gardner, a regular on the Super Rugby circuit.

The All Blacks may be thankful Raynal isn't involved in the three-Test series.

He had the whistle in the only loss in their last 22 Tests, to Ireland in Chicago last November.

A penalty count of 12-4 in Ireland's favour featured several scrum rulings against New Zealand, with loosehead prop Joe Moody penalised three times.

Peter O'Mahony  is presented with a Taiaha after the British & Irish Lions defeated the New Zealand Maori in Rotorua. In pics: Lions tour of New Zealand
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon