Lions coach Swys de Bruin has piled heat on Australian referee Angus Gardner ahead of the Super Rugby final, saying the Crusaders’ constant bending of the rules goes unpunished.
In comments which have raised eyebrows ahead of the competition decider in Christchurch on Saturday, de Bruin accused the eight-time champions of routinely pushing beyond the boundaries of the lawbook.
The visitors want a fair deal from Gardner and de Bruin will meet with him to ensure his claims are heard.
“They can’t because they are champions and people think they are good get away with certain stuff,” de Bruin told South African journalists.
“Because going through their clips – and you guys know me, I speak from the heart – there is a lot of things they get away with, more than other teams get away with.”
De Bruin identified the offside line and their hit on the loosehead side of the scrum as two areas he will magnify with Gardner.
Last week’s 30-12 semi-final win over the Hurricanes showcased where the Crusaders were so effective at bending rules, the Lions coach said.
For example, de Bruin pointed to a rushing Crusaders defensive line which he said encroaches the 10m offside line from scrums too early in a bid to shut down the opposing backline.
De Bruin’s comments fly in the face of those from captain Warren Whiteley, who was intent on making friends when his team touched down on Tuesday night following travel from Johannesburg.
“Christchurch, what a wonderful place to play,” Whiteley said.
“No one’s giving us a chance and that’s just because of the quality of the Crusaders. They’re just a fantastic side.”