The pre-Test media warfare got into full swing on Tuesday, after the British and Irish Lions ended their build-up to the first Test by preserving their unbeaten record with a 20-8 win over the Southern Kings.
Jan de Koning reports for Rugby 365:
However, the encounter with the new Eastern Cape franchise, in the newly build Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, was marred by the post-match fall-out – with the Kings standing accused of “cheap shots” and deliberate “off the ball stuff”.
It was sparked when Lions inside centre Gordon D’Arcy refused to shake hands with rival De Wet Barry – which sparked a media frenzy about what caused the supposed unhappiness in the Lions camp.
Kings head coach Alan Solomons hit back by saying that the B&I Lions are “no angels” and that they could be in trouble against an even more physical Springbok team in the first Test in Durban on Saturday, June 20.
The media spat started when Lions coach Ian McGeechan was asked several times about cheap shots and off the ball stuff.
Being the tactful media mastermind that he is, McGeechan praised his team for “maintaining their discipline” in the face of provocation.
McGeechan started by saying that the Kings “wanted to make a game of it”, but the more he was prodded at the media conference, the more he praised his team for maintaining “control and composure enough to win the game”.
“That [the control and composure] was the most pleasing aspect of the second half,” McGeechan said.
He added that there were no ill feelings and that the players “swapped jerseys” afterwards.
“It means we can move forward and look towards the Test [on Saturday],” the Lions’ coach said.
“I’m really proud of the discipline we showed today and they [the players] got their just reward in the second half,” he said of the victory.
However, he added that you “rely” on the referee and his assistants to pick up anything untoward.
“I thought we were very professional today and very disciplined, you can’t underestimate our strength of will,” he said, when asked again about “cheap shots”.
“They [the Kings] wanted to produce a tough game and they did that, I’m just pleased with how we came out of it.”
The Lions’ captain of the day, lock Donncha O’Callaghan, described it as “the usual physical game” and said he was more disappointed with the try his team conceded inside the last 10 minutes – rather than any of the opposition’s tactics.
He admitted that he saw D’Arcy refusing to shake Barry’s hand, but said he didn’t think there were any cheap shots.
“At times there was a few silly penalties,” O’Callghan said, adding: “the guys were very composed, with a lot of the stuff that went on off the ball.”
However, the Kings’ coach, Solomons, said the Lions will know that they were “in a hell of a contest”.
“Yes, there were one or two late hits,” Solomons said, adding: “But the Lions are hardly angels. I didn’t feel there was anything untoward.”
Solomons said that when the Lions face the Boks on Saturday it is going to be “a massive physical contest”.
Kings captain Derick Küun also suggested the Lions could be in trouble against the Boks with their tendency towards a “physical game”.
“The Boks are far bigger than we [the Kings] are up front,” Küun told the media gathering.
He said it was a physical match, but didn’t see anything wrong with the game.
“The Lions wanted a physical confrontation and that is what they got,” Küun said.
“The first 20 minutes showed me that if you’re physically up against the Lions, you’re in for a big game.”Tweet