Cape Town – Jannie du Plessis, the Sharks’ veteran Springbok tighthead prop, has cleared the air with Super Rugby referee Lourens van der Merwe.
Sport24 has learnt from an impeccable source that the charismatic doctor and 31-year-old front-ranker phoned the official on Monday to apologise for his backchat in the match against the Reds at Kings Park on Saturday.
Van der Merwe, during a break for treatment to an injured Reds player early in the second half, had addressed the prop over his dissatisfaction with a binding issue in the scrums, telling him he was on a final warning or he would “have to penalise”.
Du Plessis, to the incredulity of many people listening to the SuperSport audio feed, spiritedly protested, saying that his technique had received the backing of scrumming guru and former Bok No 3 Balie Swart and also Paddy O’Brien, once a Test referee and former head of the International Rugby Board’s Referee Board.
“So please don’t lecture me,” Du Plessis was clearly heard to say during the novel exchange.
It has subsequently been learnt that in the heat of the moment Du Plessis confused O’Brien’s name with that of the personality he meant, current SANZAR referee manager Lyndon Bray.
“(The disagreement) was over a technical issue surrounding binding,” the source said.
“But Jannie felt very bad about it; he knew he came over a bit strongly in his views.
“He has had a good chat to Lourens and apologised; it was a spur of the moment event and he doesn’t want to be seen as someone who has a go at refs.”