Sunday Social: Bionic man, big displays, controversial calls

Date published: July 25 2021 - Colin Newboult

It is time for Planet Rugby’s Sunday Social, your quirky recap of the serious and not so serious talking points from the past week’s action.

We, of course, start with the opening Test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions. The hosts controlled the first half before the tourists came back and took a stunning 22-17 triumph. Captain Alun Wyn Jones remarkably played the whole 80 minutes after just returning from injury and got better as the game wore on.

Maro Itoje, alongside Courtney Lawes, were undoubtedly the stars, however, and it was the former that eventually claimed the man of the match award.

It was rather apt that it was Itoje who made the game-sealing contribution as the lock stripped the ball in the tackle to end the match.

There was plenty of talk about some of the officiating (more on that later), but there were no excuses from the South African camp themselves, who were all class after the game.

While there was pressure, intensity and plenty of talking of points throughout, there was also a bit of light relief when Ken Owens took a ball to the face.

Onto some of those controversial calls now and former England fly-half Andy Goode had some sympathy for the South African television match official Marius Jonker, who was put in a difficult position.

Many, including Lions fans, were confused by the non-yellow card for Hamish Watson after his dangerous tackle on Willie le Roux.

However, South African journalist Brenden Nel took the officials out of it and discussed where the Springboks lost the game.

Ex-Lions hooker Brian Moore took a similar view but also suggested that the tourists had some decisions go against them.

Tom Curry was one of those to concede a few needless penalties, with one on Sale Sharks team-mate Faf de Klerk particularly poor. He certainly didn’t greet him like this very funny video suggested.

Away from the action on the field and there was an awful comment which came to light during the week. Ex-Ireland player Neil Francis was sacked by the Irish Independent for describing Marcus Smith as having an “Oompa Loompa tan”. Smith is of Filipino heritage and the rugby world were appalled by what Francis said.

Finally, Australian international Jack Dempsey recently joined Glasgow Warriors and showed his skills in training.