British & Irish Lions fullback Stuart Hogg denies accusations of biting in clash against the Springboks
British & Irish Lions fullback Stuart Hogg was forced to release a statement denying that he bit Springbok Willie le Roux on the arm in Saturday's second Test at Cape Town Stadium.
Springbok fans delighted in their team's victory but were less impressed with what they observed on television screens involving the Scotland fullback.
“Following speculation that has surfaced online, I would like to categorically deny any foul play in last night’s game,” Hogg said in a statement.
“I would never bite an opponent and I am annoyed and upset by this unsubstantiated accusation. I’ve always been proud of playing rugby in the spirit of the game. Respect to the Springboks for their deserved win yesterday,” said Hogg.
Footage of Lions lock Maro Itoje appearing to kneel on Damian de Allende’s chest and neck area also surfaced on social media. It isn't clear yet if the Springboks have referred the matters to the citing commissioner.
Lions coach Warren Gatland, meanwhile, mercifully reserved any biting criticism of the match officials' performance after his team's 27-9 defeat.
There may well have been the temptation to do so but by the final whistle so much separated his team and the Boks, who levelled the series, that it would have smacked of poor sportsmanship had he resorted to it.
After a week and a half of match official-bashing from both camps, Gatland said he would not comment on the refereeing decisions after his team was comprehensively outplayed in the second half by the Boks.
He will leave the performance and competence of the officials to “others” and will engage the match officials through “proper channels”.
“I thought it (the viral video of Rassie Erasmus lambasting the officials) was pretty interesting. There has been enough said about that,” said Gatland.
“I won’t be going on social media this week. I don’t really want to comment on that because I want other people to take care of that. The last thing we need is a war of words and being accused of doing certain things.
“It is amazing to me how the narrative changed regarding the TMO. I didn’t make one comment leading up to the game last week on the TMO, yet I was accused of questioning his integrity.
“Those were the messages they were giving out, so we will just keep things to ourselves and go through the proper channels when we deal with the referee, and then hopefully get some feedback from him.”
Last week an exasperated Erasmus complained that referee Nic Berry had not been timeous in his response to questions put to him in the wake of the first Test.
The national director of rugby's frustration spilt over into the online sphere, a space Gatland says he's happy to avoid this week.
“We will have our meeting with the referee this week and see what the assessors come back with in terms of their decision and find out what it was,” Gatland added.
In a match that produced interminable delays due to on-field officials seeking rewind respite, there were certainly contentious issues, but none that would have steered the outcome away from a Springbok victory.